Item Details

Price: $10,000
PJP Catalog: 61.079

With Exquisite Fore-Edge Vignettes (as Always),
This Copy Once Owned by Rodman Wanamaker


(London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1851). 210 x 140 mm (8 1/4 x 5 1/2"). 10 p.l., 331, [1] pp., [1] leaf (errata, ads). FIRST EDITION.

SUPERB LATE 19TH CENTURY OLIVE BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT AND INLAID IN THE ARTS AND CRAFTS STYLE, BY FAZAKERLEY (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with frames of gilt rules, dots, and inlaid tan morocco, central panel of upper cover with inlaid red morocco rectangle emblazoned with the title in gilt at the head, below it a large, topiary-shaped, symmetrical design in inlaid morocco and gilt tooling, incorporating 34 heart-shaped green leaves on curling hairline stems as well as five lotus blossoms with lavender petals and inverted red heart centers (lower cover with smaller version of the same inlaid elements inside a plain-ruled panel), raised bands, gilt spine compartments continuing the same design (each with four inlaid leaf cornerpieces and central lotus flower), turn-ins with gilt and dot frames and lotus and leaf cornerpieces, ivory silk endleaves, marbled flyleaves, EDGES GILT AND ELABORATELY GAUFFERED WITH DEEP GOUGING (in a similar floral pattern), THE FORE EDGE WITH THREE EXQUISITELY PAINTED SCENES within pointed frames, these vignettes taken from illustrations appearing within the book. In a felt-lined linen slipcase. With 41 engraved headpieces. Front pastedown with engraved bookplate of Rodman Wanamaker (see below). Spine and front board sunned to a pleasing uniform tan (as almost always with this color of morocco), occasional minor foxing (more prominent on first and last gatherings), but still AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY OF A LOVELY BOOK, the morocco lustrous and without perceptible wear, the edges with particularly brilliant gilding, and the three painted fore-edge vignettes in perfection condition.

Alaric Alexander Watts (1797-1864) was best known as editor of two literary annuals, "Literary Souvenir" and "Cabinet of Modern Art." Publication of the present poetic anthology helped to pull him out of bankruptcy, and he soon afterward retired from the literary life to a secure civil service pension. Binder Thomas Fazakerley is especially well known for delicate paintings on glittering gold fore edges, visible, not when the volume is fanned open, but rather when it is closed--and that is certainly a feature notably on display here. The vignettes are set off by a striking physical context: the fancifully designed and artfully crafted morocco is a visual delight, and the unpainted portions of the golden book block edges are memorable, as the gauffered embellishments in high relief represent sculpting of this sort at least as pronounced as we have ever seen. In the top miniature (measuring approximately 38 x 33 mm.), we see a colorful sunset over a tranquil lake. The bottom miniature of the same size depicts a stone-towered castle beside a river. The center miniature (measuring approximately 58 x 38 mm.) shows an adorable Cupid in a scallop-shell sailboat. Despite the fact that this catalogue contains two examples, the type of volume offered here is rarely seen for sale: from 1975 to 2009, ABPC lists just three bindings with multiple fore-edge vignettes (we had a fourth such specimen in 1994, and there were three others, one in poor condition, at the 3 December 2010 sale at Christie's-New York). Former owner Rodman Wanamaker (1863-1928) was the heir to the great Philadelphia department store and, in his father's opinion, a "genius in merchandise" and "an inspiration to creative labor." A celebrated connoisseur, Wanamaker not only collected, but also sold fine cultural objects in his store, "thereby encouraging America's taste for the beautiful." (ANB) It is not surprising that he would have owned the present volume.