(Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside Press, 1892). 202 x 140 mm. (8 x 5 1/2"). 3 p.l., 168 pp.Translated by Charles Eliot Norton. No. 1 OF 250 COPIES.
HANDSOME BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY THE CLUB BINDERY (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with gilt French fillet border, central panel with double gilt rule frame and oblique fleuron cornerpieces, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with floral cornerpieces and central floral ornament enclosed by a lozenge of small tools, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Verso of front free endpaper with morocco bookplate of Henry William Poor. For the binding: "Bound to Be the Best: The Club Bindery" 45. Free endpapers with the usual offset shadow from binder's glue, a couple of trivial spots internally, just the slightest hint of use to the binding, but A VERY FINE COPY--the text clean, fresh, and bright, and in a lustrous, virtually unworn binding.
Adorning a 13th century classic, this is a very pleasing product of the distinguished and historically important Club Bindery, a workshop established at the end of the 19th century for the purpose of creating fine bindings for American bibliophiles. Written in 1295, the semi-autobiographical text here is a work of courtly love, important as a reflection of the Medieval interest in that genre and also as a piece written partly in prose, partly in verse, and entirely in Italian (rather than Latin). Our translation of "La Vita Nuova" is by art historian and Dante scholar Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), who assisted Longfellow with his translation of "The Divine Comedy" and who was one of the founders of the Dante Club. Once the Grolier Club was founded in 1884 as an organization to further the interests of America's most serious bibliophiles, it soon became apparent that the country's few established hand binders were overtaxed in providing repairs and rebinding for the club members' rapidly accumulating acquisitions. As a consequence, in 1895, Grolier members, along with Edwin Holden and other wealthy collectors, established the Club Bindery in order to attract European craftsmen to provide, close to home, fine quality binding work rivalling what was available abroad. The Club Bindery was in operation until 1909, with Robert Hoe being its most influential manager and client. It provided bindings that tended to be traditional in style--though frequently with elaborate decoration--and that lived up to its patrons' expectations in terms of excellence. The first members of the staff of the Club Bindery were the Englishmen R. W. Smith and Frank Mansell. They were subsequently joined by a number of French binders, chief among them being Léon Maillard, who had worked previously for Cuzin, Gruel, and Marius Michel. According to "Bound to Be the Best," the present volume was once owned by Edwin Holden, who served as president of the Grolier Club in 1906. It later passed into the collection of the prominent American connoisseur Henry William Poor (1844-1915), who co-founded the firm that became Standard & Poor's. (ST12870d)
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PJP Catalog: 75.070