March 2003 acquisitions
The portrait on this broadside is instantly recognisable as Mary Queen of Scots.
Probably produced shortly after Mary's execution in 1587, it gives an account of her family and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith.
The engraving by Johann Bussemacher shows Mary wearing her crucifix and also includes the arms of France and Scotland.
This is a beautiful and important book: both the text and the binding are new to our collections. It is an edition of the metrical Psalms printed in Edinburgh in 1640, which seems to be unrecorded.
Most strikingly, it is contained in a silver binding, decorated with a design of birds and flowers. The leaf edges are gilt and decorated with a stamped design of dots and crosses.
It seems that the binding is probably contemporary, but it is not yet clear whether the work is Scottish, Dutch or German.
Here is a real puzzle and an exciting purchase. No other copy of this work — an account of the reign of King James VI — is known.
Research carried out to date suggests that the volume was printed in Paris and may have been a proof copy for a work that was never taken further to the publication stage.
Both the title page and the recto of the front free flyleaf have the manuscript signature of Georg Rodolph Weckherlin (1584-1653), a major German poet of the period, who came to England and served as secretary to all of Charles I's Secretaries of State prior to the Civil Wars.
Did he write it?