(London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1880). 265 x 180 mm. (10 1/2 x 7"). Two volumes. No. 308 OF 1,000 COPIES.
STATELY NAVY CRUSHED MOROCCO BY RAMAGE OF LONDON (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with gilt strapwork frame, gilt lettering on central panel, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with intricate strapwork design, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With occasional vignettes and 12 ENGRAVED PLATES after Frederick Leighton printed on India paper and mounted on heavy stock. Baker & Ross A7.4. Just a hint of rubbing to joints and extremities, a couple of faint finger smudges to preliminary leaves, otherwise A VERY FINE SET, quite clean, fresh, and bright internally with ample margins, in lovely lustrous bindings.
This is a deluxe limited edition of Eliot's historical novel, offered here in handsome custom bindings from a leading English workshop. The sole Eliot novel to be set in the distant past, "Romola" was inspired by a visit to Italy the author made with her lover George Lewes. According to DNB, "in Florence, Lewes drew [Eliot's] attention to the history of the city in the late fifteenth century, particularly the role in public life played by the Dominican monk Savonarola, who led a religious revival after the fall of the Medici family but was tried and executed as a heretic in 1498." It is against the background of Savonarola's fall that our story takes place. Our volume features a graceful design from one of the most respected English binders during the last half of the 19th century. Born in London in 1836, John Ramage served an apprenticeship with John Wright, then went to Paris, where he was able to work with the distinguished Marcellin Lortic. In 1860 Ramage purchased the binding business of Alexander Banks, Junior, in Edinburgh, then returned three years later to London, where he was in business at various locations into the 20th century (W. D. and N. M. Ramage carried on the business until 1929). Though the range of their designs is broad, Ramage bindings are celebrated for their remarkably fine gilt work. (ST15054b)
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PJP Catalog: 76.071