Perhaps one of Arthur Johnson's Early Bindings


(Hitchin, England: G. W. Russell & Son, ca. 1938). 190 x 124 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 7/8"). 16 pp.

Pleasing teal morocco, covers with seven parallel blind-tooled vertical lines dotted with small gilt stars that form alternating horizontal rows, the lines interrupted on the upper cover by gilt titling, smooth spine with six tiny, equidistant gilt dots. Original illustrated blue-green paper wrappers bound in. With 11 figures in the text. Front pastedown with book label of J. F. Fuggles; front free endpaper with ink signature of G. B. Bell on recto and pencilled note on verso attributing the binding to Arthur Johnson. 1945 Revised Edition of this text, in its (slightly faded) original paper wrapper, laid in at front. Spine sunned to blue gray, but a fine copy, the binding otherwise unworn and the text entirely clean and fresh.

One of a series of pamphlets on the craft by master bookbinder Douglas Cockerell, this slim volume guides students through the process of lettering and simple tooling. Generally considered to be the leading binder of his day, Cockerell (1870-1945) exerted "more influence on bookbinding practice and design than any one man has had before," in the words of DNB. In addition to designing and producing fine bindings, he taught bookbinding at the London County Council Central School of Arts & Crafts (where his pupils included Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe); wrote some of the standard works on the subject; and, as in the present work, created lessons that could be taught in state schools. Our binding was perhaps created by someone instructed by his writings. While the design is delightful, giving the impression of a shower of stars, the lettering is a little uneven, indicating a talented amateur or a binder at the beginning of his or her career. If the attribution note at the front of our volume is correct, that career was illustrious. Arthur Johnson (1920-2004) was one of the founding members--with Bernard Middleton, Elizabeth Greenhill, and Philip Smith, among others--of the Hampstead Guild of Scribes and Bookbinders in 1950; this group would evolve into Designer Bookbinders. Johnson was known for his focus on design, and for his bold and colorful creations. He considered himself a teacher more than a craftsman, and wrote a number of manuals and practical guides on the subject. If the binding attribution was written by former owner J. F. Fuggles, it is probably correct: Fuggles was Library Adviser to the British National Trust.

Price: $950.00