(1857). 152 x 241 mm. (6 x 9 1/2").
Original blue buckram with charming panels of woven straw resembling embroidered samplers on covers, that on upper cover with pink, blue, and green floral frame and natural-colored floral cornerpieces enclosing the word "ALBUM," that on lower cover with checkerboard frame and large central floral bouquet in pink, blue, green, and white, with pink roses in corners, flat spine, moiré-textured white endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH 23 ATTRACTIVE HAND-COLORED ENGRAVED VIEWS OF GERMAN SCENERY, some highlighted with gum arabic, all mounted on blank leaves; some of the cards with handwritten captions with the date "1857." Very short tears to cloth at head and tail of front joint, cloth a little rubbed, lower panel with half a dozen tiny losses to frame, front hinge beginning to weaken at bottom, isolated minor foxing and thumbing, but still a very well-preserved example of a fragile item.
This is a delightful souvenir of a tour of Germany, offered in a binding with delicate handmade decoration that represents a lucky survival. Woven straw bindings are uncommon, both because of the considerable labor necessary to produce them in the first place and because of the fragility that has militated against their survival. An album of holiday pictures would have seen much use, as the owner relived adventures or shared them with friends, and the present item has seen its share of careful handling. Still, the rustic beauty of the meticulously woven straw panels remains intact and retains its Victorian appeal. The British Library has at least one 19th century pictorial woven straw binding (shelfmark c188c4) made in England, where the present binding could have been produced--though it is more likely continental. In any case, the workmanship and design in the BL example are not so fine as what is seen here. (ST12375)