(Eger, Hungary: n.p., 1900). 178 x 114 mm. (7 x 4 1/2"). 584 pp.
Early 20th century celluloid resembling carved ivory, with two cameos on the upper cover, cutouts revealing red velvet underneath, gold and silver accents and edges lined with gold, three dangling gold chains with small medallions, smooth spine, gold clasp, all edges gilt. Engraved frontispiece portrait with decorated border printed in blue ink, 14 engraved illustrations within the text representing the Stations of the Cross. Ownership stamp on front pastedown reads "Roth C. Julius, Phillipsburg, New Jersey." A touch of mild scuffing to the celluloid, negligible, light browning to edges of leaves, otherwise IN VERY FINE CONDITION inside and out.
Straddling the line between craft and kitsch, this modest prayer book has been elevated to an entirely different level with the addition of an exuberant binding meant to imitate the look of high-end materials. It is primarily made of celluloid, a hard plastic first developed in the 1870's as a viable alternative to ivory, which had become increasingly scarce and expensive due to high demand. Being easy to mold, it was used in a wide variety of consumer products in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including billiard balls, knife handles, jewelry, fountain pens, buttons, and musical instrument parts. Some factories even specialized in producing celluloid with striations meant to mimic the natural grain found in ivory, examples of which can be seen in the thin, carved plates found on the present binding. Celluloid was eventually replaced by less-hazardous-to-produce materials like Bakelite, making products like this, in desirable condition, increasingly difficult to find. (ST12776f)
Add to Cart Price: $850.00
PJP Catalog: SE19BF.017