(London: William Heinemann, 1909). 252 x 185 mm. (10 1/8 x 7 1/4"). 2 p.l., [v]-viii, [2], 3-136 pp.Translated from the German by W. L. Courtney. First Trade Edition.

LOVELY "VELLUCENT" BINDING BY CEDRIC CHIVERS OF BATH (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), upper cover with a delicate depiction of a seated sea nymph with flowing blue gown and long blonde hair, enclosed by a frame of mother-of-pearl, the image flanked on either side with pillars of seaweed topped with squares containing swimming fish, similar fronds of seaweed on smooth spine, painted title label, vellum doublures and endleaves, top edge gilt. Illustrated title page, historiated head- and tailpieces, and 15 mounted color plates (including frontispiece) by Rackham. Tissue guards with descriptive letterpress. With Rackham ALS dated 18 May [19]36 tipped onto front flyleaf. Hudson, p. 168; Latimore & Haskell, pp. 34-35. Tiny dent to rear edge of spine, naturally occurring variations in the color of the vellum, minor foxing throughout, more pronounced on first and last gathering but never offensive, otherwise an excellent, wide-margined copy, the plates beautifully preserved, and the charming binding clean, bright, and with none of the splaying that often plagues vellum bindings.

In a whimsical, Neptunian vellucent binding, this is an adaptation in English of Lamotte-Fouqué's "Undine," written in German in 1813 and very popular in France. The tale, which was also the inspiration for the Czech opera "Rusalka," tells of a water sprite who falls in love with a human knight and longs to be human; it is based on a Medieval legend and had great appeal to the romantic imagination. Considered Lamotte-Fouqué's masterpiece, it was a perfect vehicle for the talents of Rackham, so famous for his illustrations of fantasy. Cedric Chivers (1853-1929) established binding premises in his native Bath after an inspiring visit to the Paris Exhibition of 1878, and a short time later, after hearing a lecture by Cyril Davenport on the 18th century painted vellum bindings of Edwards of Halifax, he began producing his own work in this tradition, creating what he called the "vellucent" binding. The innovative part of these bindings, as seen here, was accomplished by rendering vellum transparent, then placing it over painted pieces of paper, thereby protecting the surface of the paper from soiling and abrasion. Prideaux says that the process achieves the effect of enriched enamel. Chivers often used mother-of-pearl inlays on his vellucent bindings, and the nacre accents here add to the binding's marine motif.

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PJP Catalog: CA19BF.007