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The Book of Common Prayer. And Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of The Church of England: Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, Pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches


  • Publisher: Cambridge, Printed by John Archdeacon and John Bures, Printer to the University; And sol by C. Dilly, F. and C. Rivinton, And B.
Cambridge, Printed by John Archdeacon and John Bures, Printer to the University; And sol by C. Dilly, F. and C. Rivinton, And B. & J. White in London; and J. &j. Merrill, in Cambridge. 1794. 8vo, 202 x 126 mms., unpaginated, collating a-b8 c2 A-Aa8 A-P8�, contemporary red sheepskin, spine ornately gilt in compartments, all edges gilt; marbled free end-papers removed, last leaf water-stained binding a bit worn, corners worn, joints creased, top and base of spine chipped, spine creased; a fair copy. For some years the works of the now-acclaimed eighteenth-century painter Francis Towne (1739-1816) lay mostly unknown. The work of his most accomplished pupil, John White Abbott (1763-1851), was also for many years largely unknown and unexplored. Today, the works of both artists stand in high regard in the history of British art. Very recently, the paintings and drawings of Francis Towne have been described comprehensively in a Catalogue Raisonné, by the art historian and curator Dr Richard Stephens, published online by the Paul Mellon Centre (<>), which provides also a biography and lists of lost and disputed works. The website gives a facsimile of Francis Towne's signature, which is a match to the writing in the two inscriptions in the present copy of The Book of Common Prayer (1794). �The story that the two inscriptions in this copy appear to tell could hardly be more pertinent to Francis Towne and his circle. The first, being an ownership inscription and date, "Francis Towne / 1799", suggests that at the end of the eighteenth century Towne acquired this volume as his personal copy of The Book of Common Prayer. Then, seven years later, in his elegant hand, he inscribed and presented the volume to "Mrs Elizabeth Abbott", who was the wife of his patron and greatest pupil, John White Abbott (1763-1851). For more information on Francis Towne, John White Abbott, and their circle, see the website mentioned above plus the Oxford DNB and Grove Art online. See also the lengthy, heavily-illustrated interview with the art historian Dr Richard Stephens on the Christie's website (<>). The Towne-Abbott copy of The Book of Common Prayer (1794) is a very rare exemplar of ESTC T87346. For the British Isles and Ireland, the ESTC finds of course Cambridge, the place of printing, but then only BL and Norwich Cathedral. For North America, the ESTC finds only four copies: Saint Mark's Library at the General Theological Seminary, New York; the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard University; the Library of Virginia; and Oberlin College. The ESTC finds no other copies.�

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