(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911). 257 x 190 mm. (10 1/8 x 7 1/2"). 4 p.l. (first blank), 107,  pp.Translated from the French by Geoffrey Chaucer. Edited by Professor Mark H. Liddell.
SUPERB INDIGO CRUSHED MOROCCO BY HARDY, MAILLARD, AND PILON OF THE BOOKLOVER'S SHOP (stamp-signed with firm name on front turn-in and with artisans' names on rear turn-in), covers with elegant gilt frame in eight compartments, each with lacy gilt tooling, raised bands, spine compartments framed in similar style, turn-ins with mitered gilt rule borders, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. With 20 color plates by Keith Henderson and Norman Wilkinson of Four Oaks, mounted on heavy stock, all with lettered tissue guards. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Willis Vickery. ◆Plate mounts with a little brown staining along the gutter edge (predating binding?) and often faintly browned at fore edges, thin strip of offsetting onto endpapers from binder's glue (as frequently seen) otherwise a very fine copy, the text clean, fresh, and bright, the plates with vibrant colors, and the handsome binding unworn.
This is a very attractive edition of Chaucer's translation of an important literary text of the Medieval period, offered here in a beautiful binding executed by alumni of New York's famed Club Bindery for the collector who had lured them to Cleveland, Ohio. Henri Hardy had worked with Charles Meunier and Émile Mercier before meeting Robert Hoe in Paris and agreeing to come to New York in early 1896 to serve as foreman of the newly established Club Bindery. Léon Maillard, considered the finest finisher of his generation, had grown up in a family of binders and had worked for Gruel, Cuzin, and Marius Michel before Hoe offered him a lucrative ($30 per week!) job in New York; he joined the Club Bindery in the fall of 1897. When the decision was made to close the Club Bindery, Cleveland collector and Rowfant Club member Willis Vickery pounced on the opportunity to encourage these talented artisans. Hardy and Maillard moved to Cleveland, and recruited Hardy's brother-in-law Gaston Pilon--then working for Chambolle-Duru in Paris--to join them. The three worked for some four years at the Rowfant Bindery, but Cleveland bibliophiles were unwilling to pay New York prices, and the financially faltering operation closed in 1913. Retaining their tools and equipment, the Frenchmen soon established the Booklover's Shop, and Vickery continued to be a major patron. The binders still struggled financially--the brilliant Maillard was rumored to supplement his income by selling carpet sweepers door-to-door. But then Frank Doubleday brought them back East in 1917, where they carried on business as the French Binders (although, after 1920, they did so without Maillard, who committed suicide in that year). The 21,000 lines-long 13th century French allegorical dream vision, "Roman de la Rose," written largely by Jean de Meun, was rendered into English by Chaucer in the 1360s. In it, a young lover dreams of Cupid, who gives him advice about how to win the lady he desires, symbolized by a rose. A satire on courtly love, which was controversial for its sensuality, the work was one of the most important literary texts of the Medieval period--Chaucer was greatly influenced by it, and incunabular printers perpetuated its popularity with a number of 15th century printings. This 20th century edition is enlivened with fanciful illustrations clearly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, but displaying some more modern elements. According to Dickinson, Willis Vickery (1859-1932), a Cleveland judge, built a library of some 20,000 items, emphasizing English literature, particularly Shakespeare, Spenser, Keats, Shelley, and Wilde. He owned the four folios, possessed many Shakespearian rarities, and had a fine collection of Morris' Kelmscott Press publications. His collection was sold at Anderson Galleries In New York on 1 March 1933. (ST17318)