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RALPH WILLETT OF MERLY'S FAMILY BIBLE

[BIBLE - English, Authorized version]. The holy bible, containing The Old Testament and the new: Newly Translated out of the Original Tongues, And with the Former translations Diligently Compared and Revision. By His Majesty's Special Command.

London. Printed by John Baskett, Printer to the King's most Excellent Majesty.., 1723.
[800]pp. ESTC T81309, Herbert 965 (without the separately published plates mentioned there).

[Bound with:] DOWNAME, John. A Brief concordance... London. Printed by D. Leach..., 1726. [54]pp, without terminal (blank?) leaf. ESTC T82284.

Folio. Handsomely bound in contemporary black morocco, richly panelled in gilt, with two metal clasps, rebacked to style, with original contrasting morocco lettering-piece laid down. New endpapers. Rubbed to extremities, surfaces, four small wormholes to the new spine, some spotting and browning to text. Old repaired tear with very slight loss to Q5. The Willetts of Merly House family Bible, with genealogical details from 1694-1917 added in manuscript (and several tipped in newspaper clippings) to [3]pp blank fly-leaves. With several family inscriptions, including those of Henry (first leaf of text proper) and John Willett Willett (head of title); later in the library of Alan G. Thomas, who had the volume restored in 1961/2 (by Bernard Middleton, invoice for 5 Guineas loosely inserted), with his book label to FEP.
The Willett folio King James family Bible, not part of the famous 17 day sale of the tremendous Merly Library of Ralph Willett (Leigh and Sotheby, December 6th-24th 1813), arranged by John Willett Willett as the family sugar plantation income dwindled, and evidently retained by the family until the twentieth century.

As Alan G. Thomas (1911-1992), English bibliophile and antiquarian bookseller, sometime owner of Commin's Bookshop, Bournemouth, noted in his 'Portrait of a Bibliophile' Article in The Book Collector (1963), details of the Merly Library's founder Ralph Willett (1719-1765) are thin on the ground. As Thomas noted in his article, 'apparently Willett had no bookplate and never wrote his name or even shelf-marks in his books'; this is borne out by a survey of auction records, where Merly Library copies are apparently only distinguished by inscriptions noting purchase at that sale. Describing this very book, Thomas notes that 'even here, although the earlier details are scrupulously entered by his father, and continued throughout the years until....1917; Ralph Willett's own hand is absent; information relating to him was added by his nephew and heir'.
£ 1,500.00 Antiquates Ref: 17711