Robert Bridges' First Work, in a Very Pretty Gilt and Inlaid Floral Binding


(London: Basil Montagu Pickering, 1873). 190 x 125 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). 9, [3], 1-125, [3] pp. FIRST EDITION.

LOVELY TEAL GREEN MOROCCO, RICHLY GILT AND INLAID, BY ZAEHNSDORF (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with gilt fillet border, inlaid violet morocco frame, central panel of upper cover with inlaid bouquet of pink morocco flowers on curving gilt stems, this surrounded by an animated frame of gilt latticework, stippling, and curling vines bearing an inlaid white blossom in each corner, lower cover with central panel outlined by gilt vines and flowers in similar style, smooth spine with inlaid bar of violet morocco at head and foot, with a volute emitting a spray of leafy branches above and below the central gilt title, turn-ins with similar volutes at either side of drawer-handle cornerpieces, green silk endleaves, top edge gilt. In a later green cloth jacket and slipcase. Printer's Aldine anchor device on final leaf, decorative woodcut headpieces and initials. MacKay 1. AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY in a glistening binding, with no signs of use inside or out.

This is an extremely pretty example of the outstanding work done by the Zaehnsdorf workshop, which produced consistently fine bindings for more than 100 years. Born in Pest, Hungary, Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-86) served his apprenticeship in Stuttgart, worked at a number of European locations as a journeyman, and then settled in London, where he was hired first by Westley and then by Mackenzie before opening his own workshop in 1842. His son and namesake took over the business at 33, when the senior Joseph died, and the firm flourished under the son's leadership, becoming a leading West End bindery. Over the years, Zaehnsdorf employed a considerable number of distinguished binders, including the Frenchman Louis Genth (who was chief finisher from 1859-84), and trained a number of others, including Roger de Coverly and Sarah Prideaux. A family-run business until 1947, the Zaehnsdorf bindery continued to produce consistently attractive, tasteful, and innovative designs executed with unfailing skill. The present binding combines delicate inlay work with exuberant gilt, demonstrating the expertise of its finishers, led by Genth. The first work published by Bridges, these "Poems" were withdrawn from circulation by the author after only a small number of copies had been sold, and the book is, consequently, quite scarce. At the time of their publication, Bridges (1844-1930) was still a practicing physician at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and the literary career that was to lead up to his appointment as poet laureate in 1913 did not begin until almost a decade after this volume's appearance.

Add to Cart Price: $3,750.00

PJP Catalog: 78.190


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