(London: Macmillan & Co., 1920). 195 x 122 mm. (7 3/4 x 4 3/4"). xii, 470, 2 (ads) pp. FIRST EDITION.
CHARMING BLACK MOROCCO, GILT AND INLAID, BY F. C. AUSTIN (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), covers with central panel of green morocco decorated with gilt rules and sprays of clover leaves, a narrow panel of red morocco at its head and foot, large inlaid lozenge at center, that on upper cover blind-tooled with an image of Westminster, London, that on the lower cover with a pastoral scene, raised bands, spine with gilt tooling similar to that on covers and gilt lettering, turn-ins with gilt and blind rules, all edges gilt. Isolated minor marginal stains or thumbing, but a very fine copy, the text fresh and clean, and the binding in mint condition.
Prepared for and exhibited at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exhibition in San Francisco, this is a thoughtful and pleasing binding by an artisan who had trained with and worked for some of the great names of modern English bookbinding. F. C. Austin studied bookbinding at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London, and won the City and Guilds of London Institute's prize for bookbinding in 1933. He was a finisher at the firm founded by Roger de Coverly (1831-1914) and operated by Roger's sons Edward, Arthur, and William. Arthur de Coverly exhibited three volumes at the San Francisco Exhibition that featured the present item and five other bindings by Austin. The British Library has two examples of Austin bindings, (shelfmarks c108g14 and c108e9), both of which employ panelling and gilt or pictorial decoration. For the present binding, Austin drew inspiration from the volume's contents, Sir Hugh Walpole's story of the orphan Maggie, who becomes trapped in a religious cult. She seeks to escape with a fellow captive--the son of a minister in the sect--in hopes of forging a life with him. The carefully tooled vignettes of London and the peaceful countryside act as symbols of Maggie's unhappy entrapment and eventual contentment, respectively. Championed by such literary greats as Henry James, Walpole (1884-1941) was a best-selling author in his day, specializing in historical novels. He also wrote a few screenplays during the 1930s, and even had a small role in one of the resulting films, Dickens' "Great Expectations." Although executed more than 70 years ago, our binding looks brand new. (ST15805)
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PJP Catalog: 76.105