The Marchioness of Londonderry's Copy, Combining Early Music, Private Press Printing, and an Historically Important Binding


(London: Vale Press, 1896). 235 x 145 mm. (9 1/4 x 5 3/4"). lix pp., [1] leaf (colophon). Edited by John Gray. ONE OF 210 COPIES (first printing of this collection).

STRIKING CONTEMPORARY MODELLED NIGERIAN GOATSKIN BY THE CHISWICK ART GUILD (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), upper cover with exuberant design of oak leaves in relief, outlined with much gilt stippling, gilt titling, lower cover with repoussé oak leaf cornerpieces surrounded by gilt stippling, initials and coronet of Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry at center, raised bands, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, pale pink watered silk endleaves, top edge green with gilt gauffering. Violet woodcut border on first page of text and decorative woodcut initials, all by Charles Ricketts. Verso of front free endpaper with engraved bookplate of the Marchioness of Londonderry. Franklin, p. 203; Tomkinson, p. 165. Spine gently sunned, small scratch to lower board, faint offsetting from initials, other trivial imperfections, but AN EXTREMELY PLEASING COPY, internally clean and fresh, and the spirited binding with only negligible signs of use.

This is a very appealing combination of a substantial publication of early material, a finely printed and decorated edition, an early example of the particular style of modelled binding done by women trained at the Chiswick School of Arts and Crafts, and a distinguished provenance. The poet and musician Thomas Campion (1567-1620) was a gifted lyricist who attained, in DNB's words, "all but the highest rank among song writers of his time," and the present collection of 50 selections from Campion's love songs is the seventh book to be issued by Charles Ricketts' Vale Press, which played a central role in the revival of fine printing in the 1890s. According to Tidcombe, "The women binders of the Chiswick Art Workers Guild, the commercial side of the Chiswick School of Arts and Crafts, produced a distinctive style of modelled binding in Nigerian goatskin. . . . The Chiswick modelled binding designs, which date from about 1896, have a Spanish or Italian flavour, reflecting the style of other leatherwork taught at the School. . . . The modelling is done in low relief, and the background, or part of it, is usually tooled with gold dots. . . . Like some other groups, and many independent women binders, the women at Chiswick sent their bindings to be sold by [Frank] Karslake, and so, from 1898, they bear the signature of the Guild of Women Binders, rather than that of the Chiswick Art Guild." Our binding was done for Theresa Susey Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry (1856-1919), an influential political hostess and one of the great beauties of her day (her bookplate bears her portrait, rather than a coat of arms). Her wit, vivacity, and strength of personality equalled her beauty: novelist E. F. Benson described her as "a highwayman in a tiara, trampling on her enemies as if they had been a bed of nettles," while journalist Charles Repington wrote, "she was one of the most striking and dominating feminine personalities of our time." She was also known as a supporter of her sex, as indicated by the purchasing of the products made by our binding guild as well as by the embroiderers at the Royal School of Art Needlework.

Keywords: Private Press

Add to Cart Price: $5,500.00

PJP Catalog: BOS19BF.009