(London: Arthur L. Humphreys, 1904). 216 x 159 mm. (8 1/2 x 6 1/4"). 2 p.l., 310 pp.
BEAUTIFUL DARK BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY ZAEHNSDORF (signed on front turn-in and with the stamped oval, normally marking the firm's best work, on the rear pastedown), gilt boards framed with multiple wide, narrow, and stippled rules and with center panel featuring five rows of large floral blooms on curved stems with small foliate tools, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with identical large floral centerpiece (the binding with a total of 31 large gilt flowers in all), turn-ins with floral and foliate gilt decoration, blue silk endpapers, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. A Large Paper Copy printed on fine paper. Front pastedown with the bookplate of the noted fine bindings collector Robert Marceau. Title page printed in red and black. ◆Spine very slightly and uniformly sunned to a deep blue, otherwise a virtually pristine copy printed on fine bright paper.
This wide-margined imprint on high quality paper is offered here in an animated and elegant example of the kind of bindings that were produced for more than a century by one of the most eminent London workshops. Born in Pest, Hungary, Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-86) served his apprenticeship in Stuttgart, worked at a number of European locations as a journeyman, and then settled in London, where he was hired first by Westley and then by Mackenzie before opening his own workshop in 1842. His son and namesake took over the business at age 33, when the senior Joseph died, and the firm flourished under the son's leadership, becoming a leading West End bindery. Over the years, Zaehnsdorf employed a considerable number of distinguished binders, including the Frenchman Louis Genth (who was chief finisher from 1859-84), and trained several others, including Roger de Coverly and Sarah Prideaux. A family-run business until 1947, the Zaehnsdorf bindery has continued to produce consistently attractive and innovative designs executed with unfailing skill. The present binding shows the high quality of finishing typical of Zaehnsdorf work: the tooling is intricate, delicate, and precise, and the general feeling the binding gives is one of animated stability. The contents of our English translation here comprise biographical accounts as well as letters relating to Ninon (born "Anne") de Lenclos (1620-1705), one of the most famous libertines in the French aristocracy of the period. She had scandalous affairs with many prominent men from the Court and elsewhere (including the Church), and justified her sexual license by relegating love to a refined variation of animal instinct. (ST17640ff)