(London: George Allen, Ruskin House, 1898). 195 x 130 mm. (7 3/4 x 5"). viii, 303 pp.,  leaves (ads). Second Printing.
FINE CONTEMPORARY MODELLED GOATSKIN IN THE STYLE OF THE GUILD OF WOMEN BINDERS, upper cover with title in gothic lettering, entwined acanthus leaves above and below, lower cover with curling grapevine enclosing an unfinished central oval, smooth spine, brown silk endleaves patterned with gilt foliage, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. With printer's device on verso of half title. Title page printed in red and black. Half title with pencilled note about the binding. Spine and extremities a little rubbed, four small spots to boards, occasional mild foxing, but an excellent copy, generally clean and fresh, in a sound binding with much appeal.
The work produced by women in the literary and Arts & Crafts movements in late 19th century England is beautifully memorialized here in the Gibbs sisters' respected compilation of Ruskin's writings on the Bible, bound in the style taught by Guild of Women Binders founding member Annie MacDonald. According to Tidcombe, MacDonald's technique for creating modelled leather bindings involved taking a volume already covered in goatskin, and using a leather-working tool to press down the background leather, allowing a raised design to emerge. MacDonald also taught this method to her students, and it is possible that our binding, with unfinished tooling on the rear board, was used for teaching purposes. This item comes from the estate of Jim Graham, AIDS activist, Washington, DC city council member, and clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court, who noted in pencil on the half title that he purchased this book in Glasgow, and believed, based on the (not present) "companion volume" that it was done by a binder affiliated with the Guild. The text here is the only work recorded in OCLC by sisters Mary and Ellen Gibbs, who have painstakingly combed Ruskin's extensive writings to prepare this alphabetically arranged anthology of the influential writer's thoughts on various biblical subjects and passages. A contemporary critic for the religious periodical "Good Words" praised it as "rare and exquisite . . . one of those books which are kept within arm's length and picked up in moments of dullness or lassitude or depression in the certainty that on one page or other there will be found light and solace, strength and loveliness." Modern scholar Andrew Tate calls it "the most important editorial apparatus available on Ruskin's use of the Bible," while Ruskin biographer Timothy Hilton hails the Gibbs sisters for producing "a book of high literary quality and searching piety . . . a moving tribute to a religious mind." (ST15237)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS19.015