Book of Hours, Use of Salisbury, Inscribed by Henry VIII, King of England

Collection ID



Printed Book


ca. 1512


Paris, (France)


Latin and English


Printed on Vellum


9.05 × 5.8 × 1.3 in. (23 × 14.9 × 3.5 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This book of hours contains a printed text with over twenty partial and full-page illustrations. Printed in 1512 with wood- or metal-cut illustrations that were then hand illuminated, this devotional work has the rare characteristic of royal provenance. This copy was a gift from King Henry VIII of England to his cousin and features an inscription and his signature below the illustration of the annunciation. The inscription reads: “I pray you pray for me your / lovyng cousin Henry R.” While the recipient of the book remains a mystery, Margaret Pole, Henry’s cousin once removed and lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, has been suggested by previous owners of the text.

Printed around 1512 by Simon Vostre, Paris, France. Acquired by Henry VIII (1491–1547), King of England; Gifted to an unknown cousin of Henry VIII.[1] Acquired by Rev. Gerard Charles Fenwicke (1819–?), Blaston Rectory, Uppingham, England.[2] Acquired by Bertram Ashburnham (1797–1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham, England.[3] Acquired by 1930 by Bernard Quaritch Ltd., London.[4] Acquired by Lucius Wilmerding (1880–1949), New York.[5] Sold at auction in 1951 by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Part II, Lot 314. Acquired after 1951 by Hannah D. Rabinowitz.[6] Acquired by 1970 by Scribner's; Acquired in 1970 by Arthur Vershbow (1922–2010) and Charlotte Vershbow (1924–2000), Newton, Massachusetts;[7] Purchased at auction in 2013 by the Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[8] Donated in 2016 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry) under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] Autograph inscription below the annunciation illustration “I pray you pray for me your / lovyng cousin Henry R,” indicating this book was a gift from Henry VIII. Quaritch and Wilmerding catalogs suggest that the recipient of the gift was Henry’s cousin, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, due to the removal of an ownership inscription from the title. Margaret was executed for treason after her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, opposed King Henry’s divorce of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. [2] Sale 2706, Lot 22, Uppingham, Leicestershire (1872 pencil inscription). [3] Ashburnham shelf mark “6.E.” is heavily penned in red ink and found at the top of the paste-down endpaper. Sold at Sotheby's on December 6, 1897, as part of Ashburnham’s collection. [4] Quaritch dealer’s note on the endpaper “Quaritch Cat. 436 (1930) Item 879.” [5] Wilmerding’s book-plate is located on the endpaper. [6] Bookplate of Hannah D. Rabinowitz on the paste-down endpaper. Possibly acquired by Louis Rabinowitz before his death in 1957 and then passed onto Hannah. [7] Book-label of Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow on the endpaper. [8] The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie’s New York, April 9, 2013, Lot 22.

Selected References

Hazlitt, William Carew Bibliographical Collections and Notes on Early English Literature made during the years 1893-1903 (Bernard Quaritch: London, 1903), 249.

Museum of the Bible Publications:

Jennifer Atwood and Stacey L. Douglas, eds., Passages: Exploring the Bible in Four Movements – An Exhibition Guide (Oklahoma City: Museum of the Bible, 2015), 102.

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