Sotheby’s auctioned off a 1640 Bay Psalm Book back in 2013 for over $14 million. I make replicas of this original Psalme book. It was the first Bay Psalm Book to be auctioned since 1947. There were only 1,700 of these book made in 1640. Only 11 copies survive today and of them only 6 still have their title pages. Although some of them were bound with paste boards, this original was bound with wooden boards and then those boards were covered in leather.
I have a puzzle to solve:
I am making five replicas of this book right now bound with paste boards and am in the process of tooling those five. I want to tool these books to be as similar as possible to the original, although I have seen examples of originals with no tooling at all. As I was looking at this original that was auctioned in 2013, I notice something very familiar. Could it be? I own an original 1614 Book of Common Prayer. I got it down from my shelf and it had the exact same tooling marks on it. I mean exact. It looks like whoever bound this original 1640 Bay Psalm Book also bound my original 1614 Book of Common Prayer. Or at least they worked in the same bindery. The tools used are the same. I wish that I could lay them side by side and not just be looking at a photo of the Bay Psalm Book that was auctioned.
After looking at six more photos of original 1640 Bay Psalm Books that you can see below, I am convinced that the $14 Bay Psalm Book has been rebound and I should not use it as an example of what an original one looked like. I am not even sure, if the originals had wooden boards.
I have been looking more closely at my 1614 Book of Common Prayer and I am now certain that it has been rebound sometime ago. I have also looked again at the original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that sold for +$14 million and I can also tell that it was also rebound in the past. I am pretty sure that the same person or bindery rebound them both. I’m sure that the new owner would not be particularly glad to hear that. But the tools used do match. Therefore, I do not know what original tooling looks like.
I do have a photo of an original covered in black leather that looks pretty much the same, except the tool that I was considering having made is different on this book. I think that it has been rebound too. It does have the double line design tooled on the front cover. I have photos of three other original that have no tooling at all and are in bad shape. See below. I have done work for a museum or two. I have made initial contact wit the Museum of the Bible and am waiting for their reply.
The two books above are of the $14 million rebound 1640 Bay Psalm Book
The two photos above and the closeup shots below are of the spine of my original, but rebound 1614 BCP
The photo above is of the spine of an original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that is in the Library of Congress’ library. It has not been rebound. This one has no tooling and the text block was sewn around only three cords.
The photo above is of a rebound original 1640 Bay Psalm Book. Notice that this is not the same tooling mark as seen on the rebound Bay Psalm Book nor on my original 1614 BCP show above.
The photo above is of an original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has its original binding. Notice that it does not have wooden board, but paste boards. It has triple lines on the top and right side and double lines on the bottom.
The photo above is of another original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has not been rebound. This one also seem to be bound between paste boards and sewn around three cords. Notice the simple wide double line tooling on its front cover.
This is another photo of an 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has not been rebound. It seems to also have been bound with paste boards, the text block has been sewn around three cords,
and you can also see what remains of a brass clasp. It is hard to tell if it was tooled at all.
This original 1640 Bay Psalm Book above has obviously not been rebound. It seems to have been bound in a similar manner as the one show above it. Three rib cords, paste boards, hard to tell if it was tooled at all, and it also has the remnants of brass clasps.
As I said before, there are only 14 known original 1640 Bay Psalm Books in existence today. I have photos of seven of those above. I need to find photos of the rest, but with half of them represented here, I think that I have a good idea as to how the original 1640 Bay Psalm Books were bound and tooled.