A Uniquely Desirable Copy of a Classic Bookbinding Reference Book: Breslauer's Copy of the Author's Own Copy, with Special Deluxe Features


(London: Chiswick Press for the Société des Bibliophiles Français, 1935). 332 x 245 mm. (12 3/4 x 9 1/2"). 6 p.l., 151, [3] pp. Complete with A. R. A. Hobson's 17 pp. supplement (Amsterdam, 1970) laid in at rear. THE AUTHOR'S COPY, No. 30A OF 30 [i.e., 31] COPIES printed on Batchelor paper, from a total edition of 215 copies.

Specially bound for the author by Leighton-Straker (stamp-signed on rear turn-in) in dark green crushed morocco, covers exuberantly gilt à la fanfare, replicating the design on a 16th century binding cited in the book, smooth spine ruled in gilt, with gilt titling and small floral ornaments, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Original green paper wrappers bound in. Housed in green patterned paper dust jacket backed with green morocco and matching morocco-lipped slipcase. With numerous figures in the text, 37 plates (29 black & white, three of these folding; eight in color), and AN ORIGINAL BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPH of the binding on which the present cover is modelled. Front flyleaf with author's inscription, dated 2/III/1936: "The author's copy: it differs from the other copies printed on handmade paper in the following respects: 1. It is bound in morocco, not niger. 2. It contains the cover, preliminary leaves, & colophon, of the copies prepared for the Société des Bibliophiles français, thirty-six in number. 3. It contains the photograph of the binding from which the cover was copied." Laid-in are three letters of appreciation from members of the Bibliophiles Français to Hobson, and a correspondence between Hobson and Fred Adams about a Madruzzo binding. Bernard Breslauer's sale at Christie’s, "Bibliotheca Bibliographica Breslaueriana," 27-28 June 2005, lot 1382 (this copy). Mild offsetting from dust jacket to free endpapers, occasional light offsetting from plates, otherwise A PRISTINE COPY.

This is an immaculate copy, with the most distinguished provenance, of the definitive reference book on fanfare bindings, by the leading authority on bookbindings of his day. The main features of the fanfare style, in Glaister's words, "are interlacing ribbons" that form "compartments of various shapes, with emphasis given to a central compartment. This interlacing ribbon is bounded by a double line on one side and a single one on the other." Ornaments made with small hand tools "fill all the compartments except the central one and almost completely cover the sides." Geoffrey Dudley Hobson (1882-1949) got a first class degree from Oxford University, but severe hearing loss kept him from pursuing his intended profession in the law. He became part of the group that purchased the Sotheby's auction house in 1908, and he contributed much to the business administration and scholarly research of that firm. According to DNB, the respect Hobson had earned as a longtime bibliophile "made Sothebys the centre of the world's rare book business, and the scholarly standards he attempted to impose across all areas of the business improved the standing of the firm significantly."

The present work contains what the book's later owner Bernard Breslauer called "one of Hobson's most ingenious investigations," into the fanfare style of 16th century French bookbindings and the binders who created them, addressing in particular the origin of the "closed S" tool (one in which the serifs at either end of the letter close the openings created by its curves). Hobson commissioned the binding here, which is based on one of the bindings he examined while researching this monograph; the original black and white photograph of that binding is bound in. Breslauer (1918-2004) was one of the greatest antiquarian booksellers of the 20th century, carrying on and expanding the business founded by his father. He was also an avid collector, and a noted expert on historical and artistic bookbindings. The provenance, binding, additional materials, and perfect condition combine to make this a uniquely desirable copy of a classic reference book.

Price: $8,500.00