TWO ESSAYS ON THE EARL OF CHATHAM.

(London: Arthur L. Humphreys, 1901). 220 x 170 mm. (8 5/8 x 6 3/4"). 2 p.l., 276 pp.

FINE CONTEMPORARY BROWN MOROCCO, GILT, BY MAUDE NATHAN (signed in gilt and dated 1908 on rear turn-in), covers with graceful entrelac ornament tooled in gilt, lettering at center, raised bands, spine compartments similarly tooled, gilt titling, turn-ins tooled in gilt. Front flyleaf with binder's presentation inscription from the binder to G. E. D.[?]. For the binding: Tidcombe, "Women Bookbinders," p. 157; "The Artist" vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 146-49 (May 1902). A breath of rubbing to tail edge of boards, but A CHOICE COPY, quite clean, fresh, and bright internally with ample margins, in an unworn, lustrous binding.

In a refined binding by a pupil of S. T. Prideaux, this is a handsomely printed edition of historian Thomas Macaulay's essays on his fellow Whig William Pitt, originally published in the "Edinburgh Review." Although best remembered as an historian, Macaulay (1800-59) was also a progressive politician, an orator, and a prominent literary critic. His first published literary essay, on Milton, appeared in the "Edinburgh Review" in 1825, and its reception was so positive that he became a frequent and popular contributor; in fact, booksellers complained that the "Review" only sold well if an article by Macaulay appeared in the issue. His writing, which perfectly reflects the Victorian Whig worldview, was renowned for its clarity and eloquence. According to an illustrated article on her work in the contemporary journal "The Artist," Maude Nathan did both forwarding and finishing on her work: "Her books are forwarded with care and judgement, and the skins--in all cases Levant morocco--are selected with discretion. But it is as a finisher that this binder claims our attention. The elements of her designs are markedly simple, and the tools she uses are small, allowing that freedom in combination, brilliance, and directness of impression which are not attainable by the use of large and complicated ones. . . . Taste and originality, allied to manual dexterity, and, above all, that patient attention to 'the prolonged series of minute particulars' which constitute the craft of bookbinding, are qualities which should be the ideal of every binder. Miss Nathan's work shows that she bears this ideal in her mind." Sarah Prideaux thought enough of her former student's work that she used an illustration of her binding on Browne's "Religio Medici" in "Modern Bookbindings" (p. 50, fig. 26), in a section discusses the few women who are able to make a living at the craft. Tidcombe notes that Nathan (d. 1910) bound books for only a short time, and Nathan's bindings are rare in the marketplace, with RBH finding just two examples, both, like ours, presented to friends.
(CBJ1770)