An Oxford Binding by Nicholas Smith
Jacques Cujas (1522–1590), translator.
[Epistolai Ellenikoi amoibaiai]‚ hoc est Epistolae Graecanicae Mutuae.
[Geneva]: Sumptibus Caldorianae Societatis, 1606. (31481)
All four of the decorated borders on this binding were made with a single roll containing antique masks, flourishes, and the initials “NS.” Found on several Oxford bindings, this roll doubtless originally belonged to Nicholas Smith (c. 1565–1609), an Oxford binder active from 1593. In 1608, Smith married the widow of the binder Robert Billingsley (d. 1606), and in his will of 1609 he left one half of his “boxe of gilding toles” to his brother John, and the other half to his wife, Anne Billingsley. In the years 1620–24 the same “NS” roll was used by the Bodleian Library’s binder, Richard Billingsley, apparently Smith’s step-son, who often signed and dated his work. However, it seems preferable to attribute this binding to the earlier master, Nicholas Smith, given the 1606 publication date and the style of the binding, which was beginning to look fairly outdated by 1620.