THE LIFE OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

(London: John Murray, 1837). 220 x 138 mm. (8 5/8 x 5 1/2"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.

LOVELY PERIOD SPRINKLED CALF, BY ROBERT RIVIERE (stamp-signed R. Riviere on verso of front free endpaper), covers with crenellated gilt roll border, raised bands, spines richly gilt in compartments with central cornucopia of flowers surrounded by small tools, volute cornerpieces, one red and one black morocco label, blind-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers and edges. Frontispiece engraving of Goldsmith's monument in volume I, engraved facsimile of his handwriting in volume II. Front pastedown with bookplate of Edward Nicholas Hurt. One spine gently sunned a shade lighter, a breath of rubbing to edges, blank flyleaves mildly foxed, but A VERY FINE SET, little changed from the day it was originally sold.

This is a choice example of the early work of one of the great names in English bookbinding. Robert Riviere began as a bookseller and binder in Bath in 1829, then set up shop as a binder in London in 1840. He quickly became one of the most successful West End binders, producing consistently fine work. Nixon notes that Riviere's "outstanding ability was fully established by 1851, when he was chosen as the binder of the special edition of the Great Exhibition catalogue." In 1881, he took his grandson Percival Calkin into partnership, at which time the firm became known as Riviere & Son. The bindery continued in business and remained in the family until 1939. This life of the author of "Vicar of Wakefield" was part of the elegantly bound but little-used library of Edward Nicholas Hurt (1795-1867) of Lincoln's Inn, a childless lawyer who protected his books with ardent vigilance: in the 40 years we have sold books, we have never handled a sizable group of antiquarian volumes from a single source in better condition than these. The books appear to have been largely undisturbed except for the insertion of a bookplate, and the more decorative volumes, like the present set, approach being spectacular, gleaming and virtually unworn just as they were 150-200 years ago.
(ST14729b)