Lovely Gilt and Inlay by a Binder Distinguished on Both Sides of the Ocean


(Chicago: Argus Books, 1931). 240 x 155 mm. (9 3/8 x 6 1/8"). 177, [1], v, [1] pp. Translated by H. M. Bird.

OPULENT CERULEAN BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT AND INLAID, DESIGNED AND FINISHED BY LEONARD MOUNTENEY (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with intricate floral frame, diapered inner panel, and central panel with inlaid ivory morocco nude of a nymph and inlaid red morocco floral garlands, raised bands, one elongated compartment filled with inlaid and gilt fruit, flowers, and insects, one small compartment at head with three inlaid red morocco flowers, gilt titling, turn-ins with gilt frame, leather hinges, scarlet watered silk endleaves, patterned paper flyleaves, all edges gilt. In a black buckram clamshell box lined with red watered silk. With headpieces for each poem and five full-page illustrations by Denton. Printed in a sans serif typeface. Small glue stain to tail of rear hinge, but A SUPERB COPY, clean and bright inside and out with no signs of wear.

Attractively printed and sumptuously bound, this is an edition in English of one of the most widely believed and successful of all literary hoaxes. Our accomplished binder, Leonard Mounteney, apprenticed at the bindery of G. & J. Abbott in Nottingham and studied ornamental design at the Battersea Polytechnic. He worked as an exhibition finisher for Riviere and as a master binder with the Royal Bookbinder in London before emigrating to Chicago, where he worked with Alfred de Sauty at the R. R. Donnelley bindery. Mounteney left Donnelley to work for the Cuneo Fine Binding Studio opened by the Cuneo Press in April of 1926. His imagination as a designer and proficiency as a finisher are on display here, as the tooling is complex, delicate, and well executed. Containing 143 erotic prose poems with lesbian themes, "Songs of Bilitis" was presented as translations from the Greek of a supposed contemporary of Sappho, but was in fact penned by novelist and poet Pierre Louÿs. Born in Belgium, Louÿs (1870-1925) relocated to France where, though an apparent heterosexual, he became familiar in homosexual circles and was known for close friendships with André Gide and Oscar Wilde. In 1891, along with Gide, Henri de Régnier, and Paul Valéry, Louÿs founded the literary review, "La Conque," where he published "Astarte," an early collection of erotic verse; his first great success, "Les Chansons de Bilitis," followed in 1894. Mounteney's alluring design is a perfect complement to the contents.

Keywords: Poetry

Add to Cart Price: $5,000.00

PJP Catalog: 76.104