22 July 2024

Early ‘Matthew Bible’ could fetch £5,000 at Shrewsbury auction next week

An early Matthew Bible dating to 1551 and interesting cookery books, including one by the teacher who is claimed to have created the first puff pastry recipe, are expected to star at a books, coins and stamps auction in Shropshire next week.


Halls Fine Art’s books specialist Chris Moore has assembled 137 lots of books, manuscripts, maps and autographs for the Shrewsbury auction on Wednesday, March 20.


One of rarest books is the Matthew Bible, valued at up to £5,000, which was the fourth edition of the original version first printed in 1537.


The bible is missing 48 of its original leaves or part leaves, including the first 36 leaves. However, the Shropshire-based owner had permission from the John Rylands Library in Manchester to photograph the missing leaves which are supplied separately bound.


“The Matthew Bible is rare and 1551 is an early example,” said Chris. “Bibles of this age are nearly always defective because they were literally read to pieces.


“The very earliest bibles were burnt, however, the attitude of the authorities changed in the 1540s, when the clergy were ordered to display a copy of the bible in every parish church. Many were chained to the pulpit.


“The Matthew Bible, first published in 1537, blended together the best work of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale and is generally considered to be the primary version of the English Bible.


“Thomas Matthew is taken to be the pseudonym of John Rogers, Tyndale’s intimate friend, who printed this version. Rogers was burnt at the stake in 1555.”


The same collector has also entered other bibles in the auction. They include a 1581 Bishop’s Bible by Christopher Barker, valued at up to £1,500, Erasmus’s ‘Paraphrase Upon the New Testament’, two volumes bound as one, 1551 and 1549, at up to £1,200, a 1581 Geneva version of the Bible by Christopher Barker valued at up to £600, a 1600 second edition of the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament in English at up to £500 and Sarum (Salisbury) Primer, 1555, in Latin and English at up to £1,000.


Certain to attract interest from collectors is a manuscript cookery book ‘Receipts of Pastry and Cookery’ by Edward Kidder for the use of his scholars, dated to around 1725 and valued at up to £1,000. The letterpress title page is followed by 70 pages of handwritten recipes.


Kidder was the first proprietor of a cookery school in England and is credited with the first recipe for puff pastry. His book is described by late British writer, collector, and historian Eric Quayle, as “much sought-after” and “undoubtedly, one of the most interesting of the pre-1750 cook books”.


Quayle did not seem to be aware of the existence of manuscript copies of the book which, it’s assumed, were dictated to Kidder’s students who then copied them.

The University of Iowa has a manuscript copy of this book and it published a facsimile in 1993. A copy of the university’s book is included with the lot.


“There are striking similarities in the handwriting of the Iowa copy and the copy in our auction,” explained Chris. “Furthermore, a manuscript copy in the library of the University of Pennsylvania also has very similar handwriting.


“In our opinion, all three copies are by the same hand. Did he employ a clerk to copy out his recipe books, or are they in the hand of Kidder, who would perhaps have presented them to his lady students? Further research is required to answer these questions.”


Three other early cookery books in the auction include ‘A Closet For Ladies and Gentlewoman, or the art of preserving, conserving and candying, bound with Hugh Platt’s Delights For Ladies, 1617, which is expected to fetch up to £500.

There’s also ‘The Queen’s Royal Cookery’ by T. Hall, dating to around 1730 and ‘The Book of Cakes’ by Percy Lewis and A. G, Bromley, 1903, with ‘The Book of Bread’, 1903, each valued at up to £300.


Other interesting lots include ‘Cruchley’s New Plan of London, 1843’ valued at up to £1,500, a set of facsimile first edition copies of Ian Fleming’s 14 James Bond novels at up to £1,200 and 1972 autographs by American rock band Grateful Dead at up to £300.


For more information about the auction, contact Halls Fine Art on Tel: 01743 450700 or visit the website: https://fineart.hallsgb.com/ .