THE TRINITY HOSPITAL IN MILE END: AN OBJECT LESSON IN NATIONAL HISTORY.

(London: Published by the Guild & School of Handicraft, Essex House, 1896). 290 x 218 mm. (11 3/8 x 8 1/2"). 1 p.l., 34 pp., [2] leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Mid-20th century library binding of maroon buckram, shelf label to front cover, smooth spine with gilt titling and remnants of paper label. With photograph in text and 13 plates, seven of these folding, two with hand coloring. Front pastedown with bookplate of Monterey Public Library, David Adler Collection; verso of title page and head of facing page with library stamps; library pocket on rear pastedown. Binding somewhat darkened and a little chafed, leaves a shade less than bright and a bit thumbed, with occasional dust-soiling or minor offsetting from plates, Plate 1 with clean tear along fold, not touching image, and with minor loss at edge affecting two letters of caption, Plate 3 with inexpert reinforcements glued to verso of folds causing glue stains to image and to adjacent leaf, otherwise a complete, serviceable copy with no fatal defects.

This is an uncommon early publication from what would evolve into the Essex House Press, written by press founder C. R. Ashbee (1863-1942) as part of his work to save historic buildings. It was the first monograph produced by the Survey of the Memorials of Greater London and was successful in its aim of preventing the demolition of Trinity Hospital, an almshouse for retired naval officers built in 1695. Ashbee examines both the architectural and the historical significance of the building, delving into the history of the Mariners' Guilds and the British Navy under the Stuart monarchs. The illustrations include building plans, drawings of architectural details, and hand-colored renderings of the subjects of its stained-glass windows. Ashbee founded the Guild of Handicraft in 1888 to support skilled craftsmen and to promote making things by hand, in keeping with the tenets of the Arts & Crafts Movement. He set up a printing workshop as a component of his guild, which was housed at Essex House on Mile End Road in East London. Two years after this book appeared, this press would formally become the Essex House Press, and our volume displays the careful presswork and thoughtful design characteristic of that workshop. While our copy shows signs of careful use over the years, it has many more years of service left in it.
(CCS1911)