A Sparkling Forgery


(Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1906). 234 x 165 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 1/2"). 311, [1] pp.Preface by Thomas Carlyle. ONE OF 300 COPIES ON PAPER (and 25 on vellum).

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE DARK BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, IN THE STYLE OF THE DOVES BINDERY (stamp-signed and dated 1907 on rear turn-in), covers with large strapwork arabesque accented with floral sprays and small tools, raised bands, spine compartments with mirrored floral design, gilt rule turn-ins with floral cornerpieces, all edges gilt and gauffered with two rows of dots. Housed in a fleece-lined blue buckram slipcase. Initials in red, two pages partly printed in red. Tidcombe DP8; Tomkinson, p. 55. For the binding: Tidcombe, p. 464. ◆Light offsetting to free endpapers from turn-ins (as usual), A VERY FINE COPY, the text fresh and bright, and the binding sparkling and unworn.

This is one of the 26 intriguing (and obviously uncommon) examples Tidcombe has identified as imitation Doves bindings, a group of handsomely executed volumes that continue to be mysterious. Tidcombe differentiates between (a) forgeries (those books that are stamp-signed with "C - S" and a date) and (b) unsigned "copies of Doves bindings or bindings in the Doves style." But she treats them as one group because of their common features. For example, signed or unsigned, all of the suspect bindings cover Doves Press books, are bound in dark blue morocco, have green silk double headbands, have the letters "E" and "S" close together on the signature pallet, and so on. Although Tidcombe suggests that the person responsible for the forged Doves bindings could possibly have been the former Doves Bindery finisher Charles McLeish, she does not settle on him or any other likely candidate. Whoever was behind them, the volumes in this puzzling group of bindings are actively collected for their value as counterfeits. The Doves Press was founded in 1900 by Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker to produce their ideal of the "Book Beautiful." Over the next 16 years, they produced 51 titles in which they demonstrated that printing with plain type (designed by Walker) that is well set and with good margins could produce notable work. As Cave says, the Doves Press books, "completely without ornament or illustration, . . . depended for their beauty almost entirely on the clarity of the type, the excellence of the layout, and the perfection of the presswork." The text here is by the American Transcendentalist poet and philosopher that, Tidcombe tells us, Cobden-Sanderson considered "a pinnacle of a man." Cobden-Sanderson met Emerson when the latter visited London in the 1860s; Tidcombe notes that the future binding and private press pioneer was drawn to Emerson's "idealism, and to the hint of mysticism that coloured his view of nature." The essays here are from a collection first published in 1841, and include "Love," "Friendship," "Self-Reliance," "Intellect," and "Art."

Price: $5,000.00