- London, UK: Printed for the Guild of Women-Binders & Williams & Norgate, 1902.
- small 4to (10" by 7.75")
- later half morocco over marbled paper covered boards, all edges stained brown, gilt lettering on spine, four raised bands
- [i-vii], viii-xxxii pages followed by 50 full page chromolithographs of bindings each accompanied by a page of text.
Price: $1,000.00 other currencies
Order Nr. 123956
S-K 5468. First edition, limited to 500 numbered copies. (Mejer 645). With a Critical Introduction by G. Elliot Anstruther, who provides a very detailed explanation on the forming of the Guild, using the plates in the second portion of the book as evidence of their superior craftmanship. The plates in this book were printed by Griggs & Son and were executed to be facsimiles of the original bindings even down to the original colors used in the inlay work. This copy has the ownership signature and date "Leonard Witting, 1905" on the front free endpaper.
The Guild of Women-Binders, founded in 1898 by Frank Karslake, promoted the work of women bookbinders and provided training to women wishing to learn the craft; a bookseller himself, Karslake was the financial backer of the Hampstead Bindery, and he printed this volume at his own expense in order to advertise the work of the women in the Guild.
In many ways ahead of its time, "[a]t the guild women received instruction in hand-bookbinding, and were offered employment after the completion of their training. Guild binders set a standard of merit and produced some fo the most detailed work of the time. The guild not only extended the work of women into a field that allowed them to make a livable wage, but also encouraged women to express themselves artistically" (n.b., from "The Bindings of To-morrow" by Alex Post and Amelia Grounds, published October 22, 2014, on the web site of the Bookbinders Museum).
For all of the reasons stated above, bindings made by The Guild are today collectable in and of themselves, and this volume provides a fascinating insight into some of their best work done as of this printing, with fifty facsimiles of different bindings, often in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style.
This particular volume has the signature of Leonard L. Witting on the front free endpaper, with the date of 1905: Leonard was the "Witting" of Reed & Witting, whose binder's ticket is on the rear paste-down. The firm is still in existence today as printers; at the time this book was published they were primarily binders, which brings an interesting association to this volume.
Custom binding of half brown morocco with marbled paper boards, gilt rules along the edges of the leather, bevelled boards, the spine with four raised bands, gilt rules, and gilt lettering, all edges stained dark brown, frontispiece a color facsimile of a binding of Green morocco with purple floral design, with tissue guard, fifty (including frontispiece) color facsimiles of bookbindings, with tissue guards throughout; In a custom binding by Reed & Witting.
Better than very good, the leather smooth and supple, the boards clean (although with slight rubbing to the paper), straight corners (only the rear bottom corner slightly bumped), a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and the only prior owner marking being the name and date referred to above; light rubbing to the marbled paper boards, bottom corners rubbed, some off-setting to the free endpapers from the leather turn-ins, several tissue guards with small closed tears or creases, the tissue guards lacking for one plate (no.37). Professional restoration work was done to the head and tail of the spine, as well as a very professional recasing. Becoming a scarce book.