Friday, May 15, 2015

A Booke of Christian Prayers - Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book 1578

Joane Wrayford and her copy of A Booke of Christian Prayers

[collected out of the auncie[n]t writers, and best learned in our tyme, worthy to be read with an earnest mynde of all Christians, in these daungerous and troublesome dayes, that God for Christes sake will yet still be mercyfull vnto vs]

“ … a most splendid example of ornamental printing which this country has ever produced …”  (T F Dibdin)

John Day (1522-1584) the most skilled and innovative printer of his day was recognised for his exceptionally high quality work. He specialised in printing and distributing Protestant literature and small-format religious books and is best known for publishing Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  In 1569 he produced, reputedly exclusively for Queen Elizabeth, Christian Prayers and Meditations. Only one complete copy is known to be extant. This prayer book (both the 1569 and the 1578 version) is notable for a number of reasons one being the depiction of the protestant Queen Elizabeth at the front of the book.

But, perhaps the outstanding reason for the book’s continued prominence is the plethora of fine ornamental printing; the splendid full-page woodcut of Elizabeth kneeling before a prie-dieu to the verso of the title page, the title itself surrounded by a broad woodcut border showing the Tree of Jesse and each page of prayers elaborately decorated with woodcut borders in historiated ornamental blocks. Read the rest of this post on Marijana's blog...

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