(Cambridge: Riverside Press for Houghton Mifflin Co., 1891). 194 x 127 mm. (7 5/8 x 5"). 319 pp. FIRST EDITION.
CHARMING HAZEL BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY OTTO ZAHN AT S. C. TOOF & CO. (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with gilt rule and French fillet frame, that on upper cover entwined with intricate floral vine, that on lower cover with sprays of leaves and a flower at corners, raised bands, spine compartments with similar foliate tooling, gilt titling, turn-ins gilt with floral cornerpieces, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Front flyleaf with presentation inscription to Delia E. Gurnee from D. O. Lee dated Christmas 1897. A couple of small, faint dark spots to boards, but A FINE COPY, clean and fresh internally, in a lustrous binding with few signs of wear.
Attractively bound by Memphis craftsman Otto Zahn, this is the fourth and final entry in the series of amusing conversational essays that began with "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" (1858), and also included "The Professor at the Breakfast-Table" (1860) and "The Poet at the Breakfast-Table" (1872). Styled as conversations among the residents of a New England boarding house and their guests, the articles express in a genial, witty style Holmes' urbane philosophy and his concept of the New England character. Physician, professor of anatomy, and dean of Harvard Medical School Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94) was a skillful wordsmith, captivating audiences with his wordplay and anecdotes, whether delivered in a medical school lecture hall, at a Boston dinner party, or in his column in the "Atlantic Monthly." Binder Otto Zahn was born in Berka in Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen in 1856 and served an apprenticeship in Arnstedt, before coming to the United States, settling in Memphis in 1884. Zahn joined the publishing firm of S. C. Toof as foreman of their bindery and remained there until his death in 1928. Lawrence Thompson notes in "Hand Bookbinding in the United States" that "Zahn was a great admirer of 16th century decorative styles . . . but he cherished an even greater devotion to the floral designs current in the latter part of the 19th century. He used them effectively and tastefully. He was as meticulous with his forwarding as with his finishing, and he believed that truly great bindings could come only from the shop of a man who was equally skilled in both of these basic aspects of the craft." It seems likely that the Delia E. Gurnee who received this volume was the sister of socialite and art patron Augustus C. Gurnee. Born in 1840, Delia spent much of her time at the family's Paris home, until the Great War forced her return to New York, where she died in 1915. (ST15786)
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PJP Catalog: 76.077