Done by One of the Few Women to Apprentice at Sangorski & Sutcliffe


(Paris: L. Carteret, 1914). 286 x 216 mm. (11 1/4 x 8 1/2"). With half titles in each volume. Two volumes. No. 154 OF 200 COPIES.

VERY FINE DARK GREEN STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY BERTHE VAN REGEMORTER, covers with gilt frame of urns and floral garlands, raised bands, spines attractively gilt in stippled compartments with a central cluster of flowers, turn-ins with simple gilt frame, fuchsia-colored silk endleaves, patterned flyleaves, all edges gilt. Original paper wrappers bound in. With 34 color etchings comprising two title vignettes, six large head- and six large tailpieces, and 20 full-page plates by G. Jeanniot, all with tissue guards, plus an additional suite of all illustrations in black and white, and WITH AN ORIGINAL COLORED PENCIL STUDY FOR ONE OF THE PLATES, SIGNED BY THE ARTIST, laid in. A Large Paper Copy. Verso of front free endleaf with ex-libris of H. J. Hintze; patterned flyleaf with bookplate of Albert Natural. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE COPY with only the most trivial of imperfections, the ornate binding sparkling and entirely unworn.

This is a virtually pristine example of the elegant work produced by Belgian binder Berthe van Regemorter (1879-1964), who had apprenticed at Sangorski & Sutcliffe--one of the few women to do so--before opening her own workshop in Antwerp. She first worked privately under Brussels binder Joseph Hendrickx and with finisher Louis Jacobs before travelling to London to continue her studies. We can see here the influence of Sangorski & Sutcliffe, and perhaps even more evident is the impact of Cobden-Sanderson and his pupils. The stippled spine compartments, with their clever use of negative space to create a large six-petalled flower around the central floral cluster, looks particularly English (not to mention beautiful). Van Regemorter went on to teach her craft at the Vrije Akademie in Antwerp and at Henry van de Velde's Institut Supérieur des Arts Décoratif at La Cambre. She became a scholar of the structural analysis of bookbindings, a field described as "bookbinding-archaeology." Her importance to the history of bookbinding in Belgium was affirmed in 2014, when the famed Bibliotheca Wittockiana held an exhibition of her bindings, drawings, and designs in conjunction with the publication of her biography by Elly Cockx-Indestege. The present graceful binding is well suited to this luxury edition of Laclos' classic epistolary novel from 1782 that explored the decadence and cruelty of the bored, predatory Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil and the innocents they seduced. The coquettish illustrations here capture the world of the ancien regime without indulging in any depictions of lurid destruction.

Keywords: Women Binders