(Chelsea: Ashendene Press, 1906). 282 x 195 mm. (11 1/4 x 7 3/4"). 161,  pp. ONE OF 100 COPIES on paper, of which 80 were for sale (and 20 on vellum, 15 for sale).
DRAMATIC BLACK GOATSKIN BY J. FRANKLIN MOWERY (rear doublure gilt-stamped "JFM '94"), cover and smooth spine with wraparound design of blind-tooled crisscrossing lines, upper cover with "UTOPIA" onlaid in red morocco, spine with red morocco label, black suede doublures and endleaves, top edge silver. In matching red morocco-lipped slipcase. Initials designed by Eric Gill. Printed in red and black in Subiaco type. Front flyleaf with bookplate of Jan van der Mark. Hornby 22; Tomkinson, p. 6. For the binding: The Art of Contemporary Bookbinding, Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Brussels; Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague; Bibliotheque historique de la ville de Paris, 1997, p.135. A PRISTINE COPY.
In an arresting binding created by a modern master for an avant-garde connoisseur, this is a fine copy of an especially handsome Ashendene production, with elegant initials that constitute one of Eric Gill's earliest commissions. Calling it "a marvellous book," Franklin includes the "Utopia" in a group of five Ashendene productions of medium proportions (mostly small folio) "which in scope and skill have as much appeal as any Ashendene books." This is the first Ashendene with marginal notes in red, and the Subiaco type used here was the first to be produced especially for the Ashendene Press. In consultation with Sidney Cockerell and Emery Walker, our printer C. H. St John Hornby decided to create a typeface based on that employed by Sweynheym and Pannartz, who had printed the first books in Italy at a monastery in Subiaco (which inspired the type's name). Walker and Cockerell took photographs of the British Museum's copy of their Cicero "De Oratore," and used that as a model for the design. The punches were cut by E. P. Prince and the fount cast in Edinburgh. The fee charged by Walker and Cockerell for creating one of the foremost types of the private press movement was £100--a considerable bargain, as Hornby was the first to acknowledge. Our book was bound by J. Franklin Mowery, retired Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library and past president of the Guild of Book Workers. Mowery studied bookbinding under Professor Kurt Londenberg at the Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Künste [Academy of Art] in Hamburg, and trained as a paper conservator under Otto Wächter in Vienna, before returning to the U.S. to work at the Huntington Library. The binding was commissioned by collector and self-described "radical" museum administrator Jan van der Marck (1929-2010), who championed artists that pushed boundaries--often to the consternation of the museum boards who employed him. This binding was part of an exhibit organized by the Bibliotheca Wittockiana in 1997. Devoted to collecting and preserving fine examples of bookbinding and the book arts, Bibliotheca Wittockiana was founded with industrialist Michel Wittock's prestigious collection of decorative bindings documenting the development of styles over five centuries. The small limitation here means that this book is one of the more uncommonly seen and sought-after Ashendene works, and apart from one sale at Bloomsbury in 2009, Mowery bindings have very seldom shown up for sale. (ST16187)
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PJP Catalog: CA21VBF.008