Printed on Vellum, and Hand Colored


(London: Harry Quilter, 1898). 135 x 110 mm. (5 1/4 x 4 1/4"). [28] leaves.

Publisher's olive-green leather over bevelled boards designed by Harry Quilter, gilt-stamped with all-over repeating floral pattern interwoven with playful rats(!), upper cover with lettered panel with title and responsibility statement "Written by Robert Browning 1842 / Designed by Harry Quilter 1898," smooth spine, white moiré-textured endpapers, top edge gilt. With numerous decorative initials, each page with a different elaborate border, and 25 miniature illustrations, all by Harry Quilter, each delicately colored by hand. Ornamental text by Quilter's wife, Mary. ◆A hint of wear to corners, but IN VERY FINE CONDITION.

Designed by artist, writer, and art critic Harry Quilter, this charming little volume resembles nothing so much as an early printed Book of Hours, bedecked with engraved borders and miniatures in imitation of Medieval illuminated manuscripts. Written for the son of a friend who was ill with a cold, Browning's verses dramatically recount the dreadful revenge of a musician refused rightful payment for his services: the village of Hamelin hired a piper to rid its environs of rats, and after the piper's music had successfully lured the rodents away, the city fathers decided not to pay. This was a decision they would soon regret. The piper played a new, seductive tune that enticed all of their children to follow him out of town, never to be seen again. An admirer of John Ruskin and his championing of the Gothic style, and a fervent opponent of avant-garde art movements like Impressionism, Quilter (1851-1907) presents this Medieval tale in matching style, with remarkably ornate and detailed designs. The text was lettered by his wife, and the work dedicated to their four young children. The printing on vellum and the heavily gilt binding conform to Quilter's taste for luxury and beauty in art and design, while the rats frolicking on the cover lend a delightful bit of whimsy.

Price: $2,250.00