(London: Reproduced by the Graphic Engraving Co. for Chatto & Windus, 1910). 265 x 210 mm. (10 1/4 x 8 1/4").  French-fold leaves mounted on tabs. Introduction by Mrs. R. L. Stevenson. Second Impression.
EXCELLENT "VELLUCENT" BINDING BY CEDRIC CHIVERS (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), upper cover with title and author written in the style of a Medieval illuminated manuscript, the title featuring a large ornamental "P" adorned with grapevines and fruit, the whole enclosed by delicate rinceaux border with numerous leaves and blossoms in colors and gilt, smooth spine with colored titling in a similar style, vellum doublures, top edge gilt. Title page with an elaborate frame dominated by a "P" in shades of blue and purple with grapevine decoration on a gilt ground, this forming one side of a frame of similar style that encloses the title information and an oval miniature portrait of Stevenson; Introduction with decorative opening initials in colors and gilt, illuminated floral tailpiece; 16 pages of prayers with large opening initials and full borders in purple, blue, burgundy, and pink profusely highlighted with gilt. Text in red and black. Vellum a bit soiled and with a few small, light dampstains in frame of upper cover, corners lightly bumped, but the binding solid, pleasing, and without the bowing or splaying that often afflicts vellucent bindings; a couple of trivial spots or finger smudges to margins, but a fine copy internally, clean, fresh, and bright with vivid colors.
The present facsimile reproduces Alberto Sangorski's illuminated manuscript tribute to the last four years of Stevenson's short life, a period of great literary output spent at Vailima on Samoa with his American wife, and it is offered here in a splendid Chivers binding with a design that was clearly inspired by its contents. The work begins with a preface written by Mrs. Stevenson, followed by prayers for different times of day and purposes, all richly decorated in the Medieval style. The handsome initials, thick floral borders, and delicate gilding are echoed in the design of the upper cover, a splendid production by Cedric Chivers, the master of vellucent bindings. 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 the so-called "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. Although the facsimile comes on the market regularly, it is rarely (if ever) found in such a handsome binding by a leading craftsman, let alone in one that reflects and enhances its contents so well. (ST15501)
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PJP Catalog: CA20BF.014