(London: E. Moxon, Son, & Co., 1870). 190 x 125 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). With half titles in each volume. Two volumes. Edited and with a memoir by William Michael Rossetti. First Printing of this Edition.
VERY PLEASING DARK GREEN MOROCCO BY SARAH T. PRIDEAUX (signed "S T P 1900" on rear turn-in), covers framed with double gilt rules, raised bands, spines attractively gilt in compartments featuring a graceful pair of tulips with stems and tendrils, turn-ins ruled in gilt and blind, all edges gilt. In a recent marbled paper three-quarter slipcase. Frontispiece in each volume (portrait of the author in volume I), folding facsimile of the poet's handwriting. Front pastedowns with modern bookplate of C. E. Mathews of Sutton Coldfield; half title of first volume WITH A PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION BY WILLIAM MICHAEL ROSSETTI TO C. E. MATHEWS: "C. E. Mathews/ With the regards & thanks of/ W. M. Rosetti./ March 1875." Ashley Library IX, 126. Spines faded to a medium brown (as usual with green morocco), a couple of trivial marks to covers, otherwise THE ATTRACTIVE BINDINGS IN FINE CONDITION, with no wear to joints or hinges. Frontispieces a bit foxed (affecting the titles), other occasional minor spots or trivial defects, but an excellent set internally.
This is the first appearance of a major edition of Shelley's poetry, handsomely bound by one of the leading binders of the period. Sarah Treverbian Prideaux (1853-1933) began binding when she was 31, training in London under Zaehnsdorf and in Paris under Gruel, and she stopped abruptly 20 years later. According to Tidcombe, from 1890 onwards, she employed the Frenchman Lucien Broca as finisher for the binding designs she created. "She was by far the best of the women binders of the period, . . . she wrote several books on the history of bookbinding, and [she] also taught the craft, one of her best students [being] Katharine Adams." (Maggs cat. 966) Adams says that Prideaux "was a very good judge of leather, using only skins of very high quality, for hers was a counsel of perfection in all things." Tidcombe says that Prideaux bindings "all have a restrained beauty about them that continues to appeal to book collectors. Anything pictorial or gimmicky would have been anathema to her, and she leaned instead towards clean, crisp floral motifs. Her covers are always within the traditional limits of good bookbinding design, avoiding over-intricate tooling which hides the beauty of the leather." Rossetti (1829-1919) was a great admirer of Shelley and became an active member of the Shelley Society when it was founded in 1886. His important English edition of Whitman in 1868 and his biographies of famous siblings Dante Gabriel and Christina are well known. C. E. Mathews is certainly Charles Edward Mathews (1834-1905), the famous politician and mountaineer who was a founding member of the Alpine Club and whose "Annals of Mont Blanc" brought special attention to the mountain he himself climbed at least a dozen times. (ST17263-06)
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PJP Catalog: 80.037