University Libraries 1st Centennial Volume: Book of Common Prayer

BCP 1809 Title Page
In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Kent State University Libraries, a special acquisition has been designated as the 1st Volume of the University Libraries Centennial Collection. It is an 1809 edition of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), published in Oxford at the Clarendon Press (title page shown at right). The volume, purchased from Ursus Rare Books, New York City, not only features a handsome red leather binding, but also includes a very striking fore-edge painting of St. Paul's Cathedral and the River Thames (see image at bottom of page). Bound in with the BCP is A New Version of the Psalms of David Fitted to the Tunes Used in Churches by Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate, Oxford, Dawson & Co., 1806. 

BCP First American Ed

The Book of Common Prayer

The BCP is considered an important publication as it was established as the official prayer book and order of service for the Church of England during the English Reformation. The 350th anniversary of the 1662 revised edition of the BCP, still in official use today, was also marked in 2012. Special Collections and Archives already houses over 65 editions of the BCP, including six 17th-century editions and the first American edition of this work. Shown at left is the title page of the first American edition.

Fore-edge Paintings

A fore-edge painting is a painting executed on the front paper edges of a book (the side of the volume opposite the bound spine). The painting is created by fanning back the fore-edge of the pages. When the volume is closed, the painting remains hidden and can only be viewed when the fore-edge is fanned back slightly. Special Collections and Archives holds a significant collection of fore-edge paintings. For more information on this collection, see Painted Books: Kent State University's Fore-edge Painting Collection as a Reflection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth-century British Landscape Painting by Carolyn Corrigan.


BCP 1809 Fore-edge