Showing to Full Effect Roger Payne's Innovative Method of Treating Morocco


(Dublin: Typographia Academiae, 1746). 202 x 122 mm. (8 x 4 7/8"). 2 p.l., 136 pp.

ATTRACTIVE NEAR-CONTEMPORARY RED STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, VERY PROBABLY BY ROGER PAYNE, covers with single gilt rule border, raised bands, top and fore edge gilt, other edge untrimmed, yellow endpapers. Housed in a later black cloth slipcase. Title page ruled in red, and with engraved vignette. Pastedown with armorial bookplate of Joseph Neeld; front free endpaper with armorial bookplate of Vincent Lloyd-Russell. Dibdin II, 156 ("a very correct and beautiful edition"). ◆Just a little wear at spine ends and corners, contents faintly browned at top edge of leaves, title a bit soiled, two leaves rather foxed, otherwise in fine condition, the leather still lustrous, and the text clean and fresh.

Although this elegantly simple binding is not signed, we are convinced that it was executed by the celebrated Roger Payne. According to Cyril Davenport's indispensable monograph on the binder, a crucial technique developed by Payne "with the object of intensifying the visibility of the natural markings" of morocco can be seen to full effect here, particularly given the volume's simplicity of design. Payne had originally followed the French custom of ironing his thinly pared moroccos to smooth out the natural grain, making it more receptive to gilt tooling. However, as Davenport reports, "in due time he became aware of the decorative effect of the natural lines and dots which appear all over the surface of the skin." By dampening the morocco slightly and hand-rolling it vigorously, he was able to achieve "a permanent surface configuration like a series of small, more or less parallel, wavy lines, which is now known as 'straight grain', largely found, for the first time, on many of Payne's finest bindings." (Davenport, p. 44) In Nixon's study of bookbindings in the Broxbourne Library, one can see a (decorated) binding with the same distinctive straight-grain morocco in the plate on p. 195. Nixon notes that Payne did about 50 very plain bindings, tooled only with simple gilt or blind rules, for one of his major clients, the extraordinarily discriminating Rev. Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (1730-99) of Christ Church, Oxford. This collector bequeathed his books to the British Library, in a gift characterized by De Ricci as "one of the most valuable . . . that the Museum has ever received." Nixon notes that the Eton College Library has a number of Baskerville Press books from the collection of A. M. Storer, all bound in "plain red straight-grain morocco signed: PAYNE RELIGAVIT." According to Nixon, these were done mostly between 1790-92, and also feature the flat green sewing band and plain colored endpapers seen here. One of the most famous of all English bookbinders, Roger Payne (1738-97) was apprenticed to the Eton bookseller Joseph Pote, then moved to London, where he first worked as a bookseller before establishing his bindery. Much of his work was commissioned by two clients: Rev. Cracherode and the celebrated bibliophile George John, second Earl Spencer (1758-1834), called by De Ricci "one of the greatest book collectors . . . in the history of the world" (his books are now in the John Rylands Library). The text here is a collection of 16 satires by the great Roman poet Juvenal (ca. 60 - ca. 130) and six satires by the short-lived Stoic Persius (34-62) that has provided inspiration for a number of poets intent upon denouncing the vices of society. Among many other examples, Johnson's "London" clearly borrows from Juvenal's third satire, which shows Megalopolis (i.e., Rome) as the seat of vice and corruption. Our volume was formerly owned by the fabulously wealthy Joseph Neeld (1789-1856), whose 1828 inheritance of £800,000 (nearly £73 million in today's money) allowed him to purchase the Victorian Gothic mansion Grittleton House and fill it with collections of books, art, and antiques.

Price: $1,950.00