(London: [Printed at the Chiswick Press for] George Bell and Sons, 1902). 222 x 143 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 1/2"). 2 p.l., xxii, [ii], 333,  pp.,  leaf. No. 24 OF 125 COPIES on Japanese vellum.
IN A DRAMATIC VELLUCENT BINDING BY CEDRIC CHIVERS (signed on rear turn-in), DESIGNED BY HERBERT GRANVILLE FELL (initialed and dated "02" at foot of upper board), transparent vellum over bevelled boards, front cover with large gilt-framed panel featuring a red-caped and bare-breasted angel holding a trumpet, the feathers of her magnificent mother-of-pearl wings outlined in gilt, a forest in the background and swirling blue sea or clouds on the sides, above the angel a panel with the author's name between two mother-of-pearl circles, a sphinx perched atop either end of this panel; rear cover with marbled and gilt keyhole design through which we glimpse a conch shell and swirling sea, a lettered panel (with mother-of-pearl circles and the name "Shelley" repeated) above this and surmounted by an arched compartment in which a nude youth reclines beneath a leafy branch, clutching a scroll of paper; flat spine with lettered panel topped by a sphinx, a gilt-framed keyhole revealing swirling blue smoke or water, a small mother-of pearl kylix at the foot of the design, gilt-ruled turn-ins, yellow marbled endpapers, top edge gilt and gauffered. Original illustrated paper wrappers bound in. With numerous head- and tailpiece vignettes and 27 full-page illustrations (including frontispiece), all by Robert Anning Bell. Front pastedown with ink ownership inscription of N. Egerton Leigh, dated 1902 and with handwritten note of later owner recording purchase at Blackwell's, Oxford, in 1930; front free endpaper with tipped-on color illustration labelled "The Sensitive Plant, p. 57"; verso of front free endpaper with bookplate of Charles Walker Andrews; front flyleaf with tipped-on bookseller's description on recto and portrait of Shelley on verso; laid in at front A SIGNED TYPEWRITTEN 1904 LETTER FROM CHIVERS TO LEIGH asking to borrow this volume for the St. Louis Exhibition, with pencilled notation, "He gained first prize." A touch of soiling to joints and edges, otherwise A VERY FINE COPY, clean, fresh, and bright internally, the binding very well preserved and without the splaying that afflicts so many vellucent bindings.
This is a memorable and award-winning example of the distinctive work of Cedric Chivers (1853-1929), who established binding premises in his native Bath after an inspiring visit to the Paris Exhibition of 1878. A short time later, after hearing a lecture by Cyril Davenport on the 18th century painted vellum bindings of Edwards of Halifax, he began producing his own work in this tradition, a creation he called the "vellucent binding." The innovative part of these bindings was achieved by placing transparent vellum over painted pieces of paper, a process that Prideaux says achieves the effect of enriched enamel. The painted design was often accented, as here, by mother-of-pearl inlays. In addition to collaborating with Chivers on binding designs, Herbert Granville Fell (1872-1951) was a prolific illustrator of books and periodicals, and a respected art journalist. The influence of Burne-Jones is evident in his work, as our binding attests. Illustrator Robert Anning Bell (1863-1933) was also a stained glass artist, and Houfe suggests that his work in that medium may be responsible for his illustrations' two-dimensional quality and resemblance to woodcuts; Houfe also notes the influence of Crane in the "rather long and angular figures without shading contained in decorative borders," as seen here. This was a significant binding in the Chiver's oeuvre, as the letter laid in here reveals. Dated 8 January 1904 and addressed to Rev. Egerton Leigh, it requests the loan of this book for the Exhibition at the World's Fair in St. Louis, which would run from April to December of that year. The good reverend complied, and noted that Chivers was awarded a gold medal at the fair for this volume. It is easy to see why the binding was honored: while Chivers bindings appear with some frequency on the market, this one has more color, more imagery, and more emotion than we have ever seen in the design of a vellucent octavo volume. Everything from the angel's forceful red cloak to the evocative swirling smoke to the elegant mother-of-pearl inlays to the subtle suggestion of marble in the undecorated spaces makes this a memorable work of the binder's art. (ST17129-023)
Add to Cart Price: $8,500.00
PJP Catalog: 79.073