The Book of Common Prayer, Used by Civil War Soldier Henry B. Woodbridge, 1839

The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the Psalter, or Psalms of David. New York: Louis Sherman, 1839. 12mo. Full Moroccan leather binding with three flat-raised bands, gilt titles and stamps to spine, gilt tooling and owner’s name gilt-stamped to front board. With a new archival cloth slipcase. 

Presented is The Book of Common Prayer, printed in 1839, and previously owned and used by a Civil War sailor. The book was owned by Henry B. Woodbridge (1825-1862), as indicated by the ownership inscription, dated 1840, and Woodbridge’s name gilt stamped on the front boards. The prayer book also includes a note from Woodbridge’s daughter explaining how the book belonged to her father and was “used by him through the Civil War and returned to my mother with his uniform.” 

Henry Woodbridge was a Paymaster in the U.S. Navy, one of the first appointments in the Navy after President Lincoln was inaugurated. He was assigned to the brig USS Bainbridge, which was ordered to the Gulf of Mexico as part of the East Coast blockading squadron. The USS Bainbridge sailed for Aspinwall in September of 1862, and Woodbridge remained on that station, until his death later that year. 

A permanent feature of the Church of England's worship and a key source for its doctrine, the Book of Common Prayer contains the written liturgies for almost any service that would be held at an Anglican church. The original Book of Common Prayer, published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. This was soon succeeded by a more reformed revision in 1552 under the same editorial hand, that of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1604, James I ordered further changes, the most significant of these being the addition to the Catechism of a section on the Sacraments. Following the tumultuous English Civil War, another major revision was published in 1662, and that edition has remained the official prayer book of the Church of England. Together with the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer has been one of the three fundamental underpinnings of modern English and has been in regular use for centuries.

Issued by the Protestant Episcipol Press, the publisher of this 1839 edition, Lewis Sherman, was a New York city based firm that operated out of 142 Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan. The book is beautifully bound in its original full brown Moroccan leather. The original owner’s name is lettered in gilt, reading “Henry B. Woodbridge” vertically, within a central gilt tooled frame with scrolled cornerpieces. The spine is further decorated with three flat raised bands with gilt acorn ornaments and gilt titles. All of the paper edges are gilt. 


Good condition overall. 12mo. Full Moroccan leather binding with three flat-raised bands, gilt titles and stamps to spine, gilt tooling and owner’s name gilt-stamped to front board. All edges gilt, gilt dentelles. Light rubbing along joints and corners, as expected from past use and age. Toning to paper, some scattered foxing and stains. Presented with a new archival brown cloth slipcase with a gold cross stamped on the front. 

Slipcase dimensions: 6 5/8" H x 4 1/8" W x 1 3/4" D; Book dimensions: 6 1/2" H x 3 7/8" W x 1 1/2" D.


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