(Ulm: Daniel Bartholomäi, 1754). 162 x 80 mm. (6 1/2 x 3"). 18 p.l., 407,  pp.
A LOVELY CONTEMPORARY GERMAN SILVER BINDING OVER BLACK SHARKSKIN, covers with ornate frame in the Rococo style, with engraved vignettes of the Virtues (three to each side) nestled among a tangle of floral vines and flourishes, silver spine elements (with simpler floral decoration) at top and bottom above the unadorned sharkskin spine (these elements perhaps slightly later), two clasps at fore edge, each featuring a cherub surrounded by floral sprays, patterned pastedowns, all edges gilt. In a (slightly worn) russet buckram clamshell box, with the green morocco label of John Roland Abbey on upper cover, matching title label on spine, and yellow paper library label marked "JA 7343" on tail edge. With five engraved plates of biblical scenes. Front free endpaper with printed label of the National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868, signed in ink by C. Butler, Esq. Sotheby's "Silver and Enamel Bindings" 10 May 1985, lot 27. Four tiny holes to sharkskin covers, hinge open at )(3 and )(12, half a dozen gatherings a little proud, occasional faint marginal stains, otherwise an excellent copy, the silver unmarred and glistening, the text clean and fresh, and the binding entirely solid.
Intended to prepare the worshipper to receive Holy Communion, this little book of devotions is presented in a very attractive silver binding from one of the most distinguished collections of books ever assembled. The flourishes and flowers on lovely frames here are engraved in such deep relief that they give a filigree effect, and the Virtues (Temperance, Hope, and Justice on the upper cover, Charity, Faith, and Prudence on the lower) have a whimsical charm. Our artisan has combined classical and Christian iconography in his representations, showing, for example, Prudence in the garb of Athena, goddess of wisdom; Hope with an anchor and a raptor-like bird; Faith with a lamb rather than the usual cross; and Temperance improbably pouring liquid from an urn into a chalice--all with the columns, arcades, and pedestals of classical architecture in the background. The most ambitious and successful English book collector of fine bindings in the 20th century, our previous owner J. R. Abbey (1894-1969) was a scholarly bibliophile whose copies are consistently found in the best obtainable condition. He was one of the few discerning collectors to purchase silver bindings in any quantity, and, as detailed by J. R. Hayward in "Silver Bindings in the J. R. Abbey Collection," he put together an impressive group of specimens dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries. (ST12804)
Add to Cart Price: $6,800.00
PJP Catalog: 73.059