One of the Century's Most Beautiful Books, in
Remarkably Well-Preserved Morocco
(BINDINGS - KALTHOEBER). HORACE. PINE, JOHN Engraver.
OPERA.(London: John Pine, 1733-37). 229 x 137 mm (9 x 5 3/8"). Lacking four leaves from subscriber lists. Two volumes. Edited by John Pine. Second Issue (with "potest" error on p. 108 of volume II).
LOVELY LATE 18TH CENTURY BLUE-GREEN MOROCCO, GILT, BY CHRISTIAN KALTHOEBER (with his ticket on front pastedown of volume I), covers with single fillet border and delicate twining floral frame, diagonally placed vase tools facing inward at corners, flat spines with gilt-decorated red morocco bands, gilt compartments with a cresting frame enclosing a large central urn, red morocco titling labels, gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt. ENGRAVED THROUGHOUT, THE TEXT EMBELLISHED WITH LAVISH ROCOCO DECORATION including headpieces and tailpieces, initials, and numerous vignettes and large illustrations, 10 of them full-page. Front pastedown with 19th century bookplate of Lord Stanley of Alderley. Cohen-de Ricci 497; Rothschild 1548; Schweiger II, 408; Dibdin II, 108; Brueggemann, p. 585; Graesse III, 354; Brunet III, 320. Faint overall mottling and a few tiny dark spots on covers (perhaps soiling, but just as likely a natural variation in the leather), portions of the hinges cracked, but the paper still strong and nothing loose, small closed tear to gutter margin of frontispiece (not affecting image), frequent light offsetting, two openings a bit foxed, other trivial imperfections, but still QUITE AN ATTRACTIVE SET, the text smooth and fresh, and THE BEAUTIFULLY DECORATED BINDINGS VIRTUALLY UNWORN AND EXCEPTIONALLY LUSTROUS.
This is an engraved book of celebrated beauty, offered here in decorative morocco by one of the leading binders of the day and in a state of preservation that far exceeds even the most sanguine expectations. Ray says that the book "marks a high point of Augustan taste" and adds that "Pine's complete command of his craft makes this the most elegant" of 18th century English books in which text and illustrations are entirely engraved. Brunet says that the book is remarkable for the elegance of its decoration and insists that it is more textually correct than generally recognized. The elegant decoration inside is matched in the present case by that on the outside. Our binder, Christian Kalthoeber, was considered to be one of the very finest craftsmen of the late 18th century; in fact, Maggs Catalogue 966 states flatly that "he was considered during his day to be the finest binder in the world." He came to London from Germany, along with several countrymen, in order to fill the need generated by the gentlemanly English fashion of forming large libraries filled with sumptuous bindings, working at first for the well-respected Baumgarten and then succeeding him in 1781. One of his bindings was priced at the unheard of sum of 30 guineas, and its reputation became such that George III insisted upon seeing it. Moreover, apparently because of the publicity surrounding his work, the Czarina made persistent efforts to induce Kalthoeber to come to St. Petersburg. The condition of our two volumes can only be described as exceptional, with gilt nearly as bright as the day it was applied. Pine's Horace is not especially rare, but copies like the present one, with its wide margins and wonderful contemporary binding, are very difficult to obtain. (ST11804)