A Very Striking Maritime Binding with Entwined Foliage, Sea Foam, and Billowing Sails


(London: Edward Arnold, 1916). 189 x 125 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). x, 11-128 pp. Third ("Popular") Edition.

SUPERB DEEP BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, INLAID AND PAINTED TO A NAUTICAL DESIGN BY HENRY WOOD (stamp-signed on front turn-in), upper cover with gilt fillet border, interlacing rope frame of inlaid brown morocco entwined with inlaid green morocco foliage bearing gilt berries, central oval of cerulean blue morocco inlaid with an Elizabethan ship in full sail, the wooden ship done in brown, tan, and black morocco, the billowing white sails and flag bearing the red cross of St. George, the blue background morocco textured and painted to depict the waves of the sea, with inlaid white morocco foam where the ship cleaves its path through the ocean, lower cover with simple inlaid brown morocco rope frame, raised bands, spine compartments framed with brown morocco "rope" and inlaid with either foliage or an anchor, gilt lettering, turn-ins tooled with gilt rope frame, ivory watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. In the original fleece-lined clamshell case of blue three-quarter morocco over blue linen. ◆Just the faintest hint of soiling on back cover, but essentially a pristine copy inside and out.

This handsome pictorial binding is quite appropriate for a collection of five ballads on the valiant mariners of Elizabethan England. Binder Henry Wood worked as a finisher for Zaehnsdorf for 12 years, developing the expert technique on full display here. It is hard to decide which is more impressive--the delicacy of the pictorial inlay (the intricate details of the ship, the seafoam), or the remarkable texturing that gives the cover image such depth. In 1890, Wood went out on his own, purchasing the bindery operated by Simon Kaufmann and French émigré Lucien Roca. He continued to execute bindings to a high standard that ranked with the work of the better-known binderies like Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Riviere, and his former employer. Prideaux notes in "Modern Bookbindings" that he "greatly expanded" Kaufmann's business but never "sought the heavy expenses and responsibilities of a large undertaking," being, like his former co-worker at Zaehsndorf Roger de Coverly, "content with a personal business in which they themselves have always taken an active part." First published in 1897, "Ballads" is the best-known work of James Rennell Rodd, first Baron Rennell (1858-1941), an influential British diplomat who managed an impressive literary and scholarly output, despite the demands of a very successful career in the Foreign Service. This third edition was published at the height of the Great War; in the preface Rodd states: "The vision of the present is still too confused and bewildering for adequate expression. . . . But the chivalries of the sea and the test of high endurance are the same as in the days of our fathers, and while the island race endures, the spirit of Drake, who sleeps 'neath some great wave,' will never call to them in vain."

Price: $9,500.00