John Foxe rare books and memorabilia
John Foxe rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to historian and martyrologist John Foxe (1517-1587). He is notable for his Acts and Monuments, better known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Foxe is best known for his collection of accounts of the martyrdom of the Christian Protestant saints at the hands of the Catholics from the 14th century through the reign of Mary I, the Actes and Monuments. He began this work in 1552, publishing the first true Latin edition in 1559, and the first English edition in 1563 by John Day, only five years after the death of the Roman Catholic queen Mary I. An enormous book of 1700 pages, this was at the time the largest publishing project ever undertaken in England at the time, one of the first to exemplify use of the printing press, and would become one of the most significant works ever written. It acutely portrays the atmosphere of the Protestant Reformation, and had a huge part to play in forming the consciousness of British history, culture and identity. Foxe drew from primary sources including reports of trials, eyewitness accounts, and Episcopal registers. The work was published with numerous, somewhat gory, woodcut illustrations of martyrdom: saints being burned alive and beaten to death, etc. The second edition of 1570 was expanded considerably, the page count topping 2300 and the woodcuts going from 60 to 150. These woodcuts were all made to order as Foxe found new accounts of martyrdom to write about. The fourth edition of 1583, the last published in Foxe’s lifetime, consisted of two volumes of about two thousand pages each, nearly four times the length of the Bible. The work was ordered, in 1571, to be chained beside the bible in cathedrals as a testament to the suffering of Protestants. March 2013 will mark 450 years since the first edition was published.
Types of John Foxe rare books and memorabilia
- Actes and Monuments 2 volumes in 1 complete (1596), fifth edition, sold for £1,700 in July 2010.
- Actes and Moments 3 volumes complete (1641), later edition, previously owned by several people of note, sold for £1,700 in November 2005.
- Actes and Monuments, 2 volumes in 1 complete (1583) fourth edition, sold for £2,390 in May 2003.
- Actes and Monuments, 3 volumes (1641), later edition, sold for £1,560 in March 2008.
- Actes and Monuments, 3 volumes (1641), later edition, sold for £1,434 in November 2003.
- Actes and Monuments, 3 volumes (1641), later edition, sold for £1,351 in April 2004.
- Actes and Monuments 2 volumes (1576), third edition, sold for £1,080 in June 2011.
- Actes and Monuments (1563), first edition complete, sold for £7,050 in February 2001.
- Actes and Monuments (1570), volume I only, second edition, sold for $1,763 in May 2000.
- Actes and Monuments (1641), later edition complete, sold for £1,116 in September 2000.
- Actes andMonuments, 3 volumes (1641), sold for $2,629 in April 2011.
- Actes and Monuments, 3 volumes (1684), sold for $1,493.75 in February 2010.
Guide for collectors
Most of the copies of the first four editions are imperfect, having suffered inevitable loss and damage since the 16th century. However, they are still extremely valuable, representing one of the most significant English works ever printed and being so delicate and scarce. Even when there is only one of two, or one or three volumes present, these books are very collectible. Much later 17th century printings are also considered collectible and can sell for several hundred or thousand, especially with an interesting provenance.