(London: Privately Printed, 1894). 282 x 188 mm. (11 1/8 x 7 1/2"). 2 p.l., 96 pp. NO. 42 OF 199 COPIES, INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR.
Contemporary red half morocco over dark blue cloth boards, flat spine, gilt, with light green morocco label, top edge gilt. With 22 plates, most printed in color. Front free endpaper with inscription from Bernard Quaritch to Brother Walter Hamilton dated April 12, 1894; with Hamilton's bookplate on front pastedown; one text correction in ink. A little rubbing to joints and extremities, top corners worn to boards, covers with a few light scuffs, but the binding sturdy and the contents in pristine condition.
Penned by the venerable bookseller Bernard Quaritch and printed for the London bibliophile's club known as "Ye Old Sette of Odd Volumes," this work contains a brief history of writing from its earliest origins through the Middle Ages. Quaritch founded the playfully named "Sette" in 1878 with the motto "There is Divinity in Odd Numbers." Included in the membership (or "Odd Volumes," as they called themselves) were prominent authors, artists, publishers, and other like-minded gentlemen, while invited guests included luminaries like Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and Aubrey Beardsley. The club would meet monthly to dine and hear lectures from members on their particular areas of interest and proficiency, often scholarly or eccentric in nature. These addresses would then be printed as limited, signed editions for private circulation among members, with titles as varied as the Odd Volumes themselves, including "Automota Old and New," and "Cocaine." This is not only a charming piece of bibliophilic history with an excellent association, but also a rare book: the last two copies we can trace in the marketplace were one at auction in 1979 and one offered by Maggs in 1986 (for £150). (ST15198c)
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PJP Catalog: RCVF20.049