(London: George Allen, 1901). 190 x 123 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 7/8"). xxii, 199 pp.
IMMENSELY PLEASING BRICK RED CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT IN THE ARTS & CRAFTS STYLE, BY PHILIP DANA MASON (signed "P. D. M. 1904" in gilt on rear turn-in), covers with triple gilt-rule border enclosing a graceful outer frame of clover leaves formed with heart tools, inner gilt-rule frame with circlet tools at mid-sides and corners, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt cinquefoil at center, gilt titling, turn-ins with gilt rules and clover-leaf cornerpieces, all edges gilt. Spine slightly (but uniformly) darkened, a touch of wear to joints, three small light spots on lower board, mild foxing to opening leaves, but an extremely fine copy, clean and fresh internally, in a binding with very lustrous boards and showing almost no signs of use.
This is Ruskin's influential work proposing improvements in the economic system, bound by a student of T. J. Cobden-Sanderson who later headed up the fine binding department at the Riverside Press. In "Unto this Last," Ruskin asks for universal access to education, government-run industries working in competition with private companies, governmental unemployment help, and pensions for the aged and disabled. The work was so controversial that "Cornhill Magazine," in which it first appeared as a serial in 1860, was shut down by Thackeray, its editor, in the wake of the public outcry it generated. It was an important text to the Hammersmith socialists like William Morris and Cobden-Sanderson who were leaders of the Arts & Crafts movement, and the latter printed an edition of it at his Doves Press. Philip Dana Mason (1873-1907) went to work for Houghton Mifflin after graduating from Harvard in 1897, and headed up the fine arts department at Riverside Press. His obituary in the Fourth Report of the Harvard Class of 1897 notes that he spent more than a year in 1903-04 as a pupil of Cobden-Sanderson, and our attractive binding, done near the end of that period, clearly shows the influence of the master in the use of heart tools to create flowers and foliage, the panelling that features circlets, and the place and manner of signing his work. After returning to the Riverside Press, he was put in charge of fine binding, and he was responsible for most of the binding designs. His obituary notes that "He was happy in this work and became very skillful." Plagued with ill health throughout his short life, he succumbed to an acute illness just days before his 34th birthday. (ST15109b)
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PJP Catalog: 75.079