A Dazzling Sangorski & Sutcliffe Binding from the Edwardian Golden Age of Bejewelling


(Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1858). 201 x 153 mm. (7 7/8 x 5 5/8"). xxxvi, [2], [11]-153, [1] pp.With a life of the author by Robert Carruthers.

GORGEOUS DARK BLUE BEJEWELLED CRUSHED MOROCCO BY SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE (stamp-signed in gilt and with registration no. 609810 on rear doublure), covers framed by inlaid green morocco strips and densely stippled gilt bar inlaid with red morocco chain links, boards diapered by diagonal gilt rules into lozenge compartments resembling a fishing net, upper cover with large sunken central panel heavily stippled with gilt, inlaid and raised scalloped shells at the lobed corners, inlaid black morocco anchor intertwined with brown strapwork "rope" at center, enclosed by an oval of mother-of-pearl inlays and eight cabochon amethysts, this surrounded by inlaid green morocco seaweed and multi-colored dolphins with (synthetic?) ruby eyes, this design accented with eight garnets and eight chalcedonies, rear cover with inlaid dolphins at corners, central circular sunken panel containing an inlaid green morocco life preserver gilt-lettered "Britannia," a maroon morocco coral at its center, the whole surrounded by green morocco strapwork on a background of stippled gold, accented with eight cabochon garnets, raised bands, spine compartments lavishly gilt with inlaid morocco coral designs, two green morocco labels, GREEN MOROCCO DOUBLURES framed by blue and brown morocco tooled with gilt scallop shells, green watered silk endleaves, edges gilt and gauffered, and painted with faux gemstones. In a blue morocco folding case. With wood-engraved vignettes and initials after Noel Humphreys by H. N. Woods, and 30 wood-engraved illustrations in the text after Birket Foster by Edmund Evans, the Dalziel brothers, and W. T. Green. From the library of Phoebe A. D. Boyle (Anderson Galleries, 19 November 1923, lot 107) For the binding: Ratcliffe 111. AN OUTSTANDING COPY with no signs of use inside or out.

From the superb collection of American bibliophile Phoebe Boyle, this is a magnificent example of a jewelled binding from the Edwardian golden age of the craft, when Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Riviere engaged in a competition to produce the most lavish works imaginable and consequently created treasures sought after by generations of bibliophiles. Perhaps the premier practitioner of the art of the jewelled binding, the atelier founded by Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe reached its zenith in the first dozen years of the 20th century, when their most gorgeous gem-encrusted bindings were produced. The binders drew detailed designs that reflected the contents of the book in question, and even went so far as to register some of these--like the present item--with the Patent Office to ensure they were not copied. Stephen Ratcliffe estimates that "no more than 300 were ever produced," and given the labor-intensive process required to produce a binding like the present one, this small number is not surprising: hundreds of man-hours would have been required to craft these intricate inlays and onlays, to make the thousands of applications of gold, and to set the dozens of gemstones. Our appropriately nautical binding covers a fine illustrated edition of the popular poem by Falconer (1732-69), recounting the wreck of a ship off the coast of Greece. Written in three cantos, the work first appeared in 1762, with revised versions issued in 1764 and 1769, the year the author was drowned at sea, himself the ironic victim of a shipwreck. New York collector Phoebe A. D. Boyle was the widow of a canvas manufacturer who had made a fortune providing tents to the U.S. Army in the Civil War. George Sutcliffe described his important client as "rivalling the Medici in her patronage of the production of beautiful books." (Shepherd, "The Cinderella of the Arts," p. 63) Stephen Ratcliffe describes the Boyle collection as "unrivalled" for its jewelled bindings and modern illuminated manuscripts, and any book from the Boyle collection, which was put together with the greatest taste and discrimination, is recognized as desirable beyond its intrinsic literary merit.

Add to Cart Price: $40,000.00

PJP Catalog: CA20BF.022