(London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1903). 194 x 121 mm. (7 5/8 x 4 3/4"). 2 p.l., 296,  pp. (including ads at the end). Second Impression.
Pleasant tan modelled pictorial goatskin, upper cover with central panel depicting an apple orchard with fruit falling from the trees, the title and author's name modelled in stylized Arts & Crafts-style lettering in rectangular panels above and below this scene, lower cover with the initials "W F H B" in large letters; raised bands, blind-tooled turn-ins, all edges gilt. Front flyleaf with inked inscription, "To the husband of my dearest friend--& so my friend--this book-- / Ruth Mortlock-Brown November 25, 1903." Slight soiling at top of lower board, some gilt lost at fore edge of book block, otherwise in fine condition with only the most trivial imperfections.
This is an agreeable Arts & Crafts binding in the style originated in Edinburgh by Annie S. MacDonald (d. 1924), covering a symbolist novel that vividly characterizes English social life of the period. Inspired by Medieval books, MacDonald began teaching herself and others in the early 1890s (in a group that became known as the Edinburgh Arts and Crafts Club) the special technique of modelling seen on our binding. MacDonald used undressed goatskin, which mellows with age from white to a rich amber color, and worked it with one small tool, without cutting, raising, or padding the leather. Tidcombe gives MacDonald the credit for prompting the bookseller Frank Karslake in 1898 to establish the Guild of Women Binders and says that "MacDonald was the prime mover in this, as she was eager to have a London outlet for bindings produced by her group. . . . Their modelled goatskin bindings comprised 40 of the 114 bindings shown in the first Guild exhibition." Lacking the "A S M" that MacDonald often used to sign her bindings, our volume may have been covered by a pupil of hers, and at any rate was certainly influenced by her work. The year of publication and the presentation inscription are the same here, and we wonder if the book may have been specially bound at the request of the presenter, Ruth Mortlock-Brown, as a gift to her best friend's husband; if so, then the bold initials on the rear cover would have been his. (ST17129-010)
Add to Cart Price: $3,000.00
PJP Catalog: 80.016