(London: Hurst and Blackett, Limited, 1899). 190 x 125mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). xii, 128 pp.; 1 p.l. (volume II title page handwritten in ink), 129-312 pp. One volume expanded to two.
Fine crimson crushed morocco by the Guild of Women Binders (stamp-signed in gilt on front pastedown), raised bands, stylized gilt lettering on spines, all edges gilt. With five portraits, as called for, and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 264 PLATES, 31 of these colored, 12 folding, about half of them scenes or views, the rest portraits. Also containing the bookplate of David Garrick (mounted on card at p. 10); an autograph letter, signed, from George Smart; an invoice or accounting signed by Eliza Matthews; and five other autographs mounted on heavy stock. ◆Occasional trivial offsetting from inserted plates, but A VERY FINE COPY, clean and fresh internally, in unworn bindings.
Richly extra-illustrated with depictions of the people, places, and events discussed in the text, this joint biography of brothers James and Horace Smith was simply and tastefully bound by members of the Guild of Women Binders. Although James (1775-1839) was a lawyer and Horace (1779-1849) a successful stockbroker, both had literary aspirations and enjoyed being part of theatrical and artistic circles. Their dreams were realized when in 1812 the Drury Lane Theatre offered a £50 prize for an address to be recited on the theater's reopening following repair of fire damage. The Smiths hit on the idea of producing parodies of popular poets, with James imitating Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge, while Horace took on Byron, Moore, and Scott. Their humorous publication was an unexpected runaway hit, going to seven editions in three months. According to Britannica, "'Rejected Addresses' are the most widely popular parodies ever published in England, and take classical rank in literature. . . . A striking feature is the absence of malice; none of the poets caricatured took offence, while the imitation is so clever that both Byron and Scott are recorded to have said that they could hardly believe they had not written the addresses ascribed to them." In addition to being witty, both men were kind and generous friends, often helping impecunious artists. Percy Shelley and Horace became friends after competing in a sonnet-writing contest (which Shelley won by producing "Ozymandias"). Before leaving for Italy, the poet entrusted his financial affairs to Horace, of whom he said, "Is it not odd that the only truly generous person I ever knew who had money enough to be generous with should be a stock-broker? He writes poetry and pastoral dramas and yet knows how to make money, and does make it, and is still generous." The binding here was produced by the Guild of Women Binders, established by bookseller Frank Karslake in 1898 to give an organizational identity to a group of women already at work binding books in various parts of Britain, often in their own homes. Karslake first became interested in women binders when he visited the Victorian Era Exhibition at Earl's Court in 1897, held to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. He was impressed with a number of bookbindings at the Jubilee exhibit, prominent among them being those of Mrs. Annie MacDonald of Edinburgh, and he invited the women to exhibit their work in his shop at 61 Charing Cross Road. The Guild was formed soon thereafter, and operated until 1904. As Tidcombe notes, "because the women were generally unaware of the long history of traditional bookbinding design, they produced designs that were freer and less stereotyped than those of men in the trade." Our binding is more restrained that other Guild works, but the spine lettering, which juxtaposes curves and sharp angles, stands out as a distinctive feature. (ST19035)