Broadside: The Solemn League & Covenant

The Solemn League & Covenant (2009). Large broadside (16.75″ x 21.75″).1 Printed on letter press in hand set type for Westminster Letter Press by Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press on Twinrocker handmade paper. Issued in an edition of no more than one hundred and twenty-five, including twenty-five numbered signed copies (signed by the publisher, typesetter and printer).2 Unsigned, $135. Numbered signed copies, $250.  Outside the USA, please inquire as to availability and shipping costs. Order here.

Solemn League & Covenant

Critical text and comment by Chris Coldwell. Design and typesetting by Dan Carr. Hand set in 14 D Dantecrystal lion rampant type with Perpetua Titling. Printed letterpress by Julia Ferrari from metal types on Twin Rocker Handmade May Linen feather deckle paper. Sheet size is approximately 16.75 x 21.75 with the deckle edging.3 A critically researched text is presented on the front under the title For Christ’s Crown & Covenant, The Solemn League & Covenant, within an ornamental border. The title box is flanked by Red Lions Rampant, with the figures based on an engraving by Lesley Pyke (right). Comments on textual issues which have arisen over centuries of printing are presented on the back side.

Golgonooza Press & Letter Foundry
Great River Arts notes that “Golgonooza Press is an atelier dedicated to the highest quality letterpress projects, from the design and fabrication of type to the printing of select portfolio projects. Carr and Ferrari have been approached by artists, writers, publishers and poets to realize unique, museum quality print editions and are known throughout the print world as masters in their field.” “Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari are two of the most revered letterpress masters in the field today; their work is in museums, private collections and print collections worldwide.” This project was one of the most technically challenging the pair have had in many years, due to the heavy large sheets, and the publisher’s demand that the ornate paper not be marked by any punctures for registration. Dan and Julia have produced an heirloom quality piece to last generations.

The Text of the Solemn League & Covenant
For a number of years, Chris Coldwell has worked on critical texts and transcriptions of the productions of the We noblemenWestminster Assembly of Divines (1643–1652). Some of his work has appeared in The Confessional Presbyterian journal, of which he is the general editor. The text for this limited printing has been taken from the text as preserved in the “traditional text” of the many printings of the Westminster Standards over the centuries, compared and corrected against the earliest printings of the Covenant published in 1643. Comment on the textual variations that have occurred are printed on the back of the broadside.

Historical Background

After the Reformation in Scotland and the settling of a protestant church, a regression occurred when King James I re-imposed bishops on the church. This was tolerated under his reign but Charles the First against all advice attempted to impose a new liturgy on the nation which rallied opposition and resulted in what is known as the Second Scots Reformation. Charles’ opposition became known as the Covenanters. The Scottish church met and with support of the nobility rejected all the King’s designs. The King unwilling to relent went to war with his subjects. During what is called the first bishops’ war, the Covenanters mustered at Duns to engage the King’s forces; however, neither being in a good position to engage, a royal treaty was signed instead. This did not last long and further negotiations deteriorated. The King returned to London to prepare for what is called the Second Bishops’ war. However, the King had not lionheadcalled a parliament in eleven years, and was short of funds. Presuming he would get support, he called one, but this parliament instead focused on eleven years of built up grievances with the king, and so he dismissed what is called the Short Parliament after three weeks. This left him in an untenable situation, and the Scots perceiving the king did not have the support of the English, made a pre-emptive move into England, taking Newcastle and cutting off the coal supply to London. The second war was over as soon as it began, and instead of a royal treaty, such as the one that failed previously, the Scots insisted that the English Parliament be involved. Charles I called what is known as the Long Parliament. Settling problems temporarily with the Scots, Charles I had opened up a can of worms with his own people and the English fell into civil war. The English Parliament enlisted against the King the aid of Scotland and the two nations agreed to a mutual compact known as the Solemn League and Covenant.

Design of the Broadside
During the first bishops’ war as the Covenanters were mustering at Duns, a description has been left of the scene by Robert Baillie in his journals. The historian James King Hewison paraphrases the scene from which the graphical design of the broadside has come: the camp was “filled with pious campaigners and lusty ploughboys, easily distinguished by their blue bonnets (few had iron-sculls), some crooning psalms or saying prayers, or anon dancing at midnight alarms of battle, others cursing, all well fed on wheat, well paid at sixpence daily, all longing for the fray under blue banners blazoned with red lions-rampant breathing the pious motto, ‘For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.’”4 A critically researched text is printed on the front side in two columns, under the title For Christ’s Crown & Covenant, The Solemn League & Covenant, within an ornamental border, flanked by red lions rampant.5 On the back side comments on the textual issues are printed on a footprint matching the frontside to prevent “show-through” on the front. The text was set by hand in 14 D Dante type with Perpetua Titling and damp printed letterpress on a Vandercook Universal III press by Julia Ferrari from metal types. The hand made paper is Twin Rocker (color May Linen) with a feather deckle edge in a size of approximately 16.75 x 21.75.

Detail:

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  1. The broadside is dated April 2009, but was not completed until July 24, 2009. []
  2. Not including author’s copies of 1 signed unnumbered, and 8 unsigned reserved to replace damaged sheets. []
  3. “In 1973, Twinrocker designed a decorative, exaggerated “Feather” deckle which is recognized world-wide as unique” []
  4. James King Hewison, The Covenanters: A History of the Church in Scotland from the Reformation to the Revolution. 2 vols. (London: Morgan and Scott, 1908; 2nd edition, 1913) 1.327. []
  5. Lions rampant are based on a glass engraving design by Lesley Pyke. []