Bookbinders and Their Craft

A Famous Binder's Copy of a Binder's Binding History
In a Superb Binding by Zaehnsdorf

[BINDING}. PRIDEAUX, S[arah] T[reverbian. Bookbinders and Their Craft. London: [Printed in New York by the Gilliss Press for] Zaehnsdorf Cambridge Works, 1903.

Limited to 500 numbered copies, this being copy no. 122. Quarto ((9 1/2 x 6 1/4 in; 242 x 158 mm). viii, [4], 298, [2] pp.

Bound by Zaehnsdorf (stamp-signed on front turn-in) in full contemporary crimson crushed morocco elaborately gilt. Covers bordered by plain and decorative gilt rules, with large and delicate filigree cornerpieces containing an inlaid green morocco flower, raised bands, spine similarly embellished with intricately gilt compartments featuring central green morocco flower surrounded by dense filigree tooling, turn-ins tooled with lacy gilt corners and sidepieces, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With numerous black and white photographs of bindings in the text. Printed on heavy coated stock. Front pastedown with engraved bookplate of Léon Gruel (see below). A SUPERB COPY, immaculate internally, and in a sparkling binding that is virtually unworn.

This is a classic work by a woman Tidcombe describes as "a binder, a teacher, and one of the first people to write intelligently in English on both contemporary and historical bookbinding," this copy with binding and provenance strongly connected to the author.

Sarah Treverbian Prideaux (1853-1933) began binding when she was 31, training in London under Zaehnsdorf (the binder here) and in Paris under Gruel (our former owner). She was very interested in the history of the craft and in the techniques of earlier binders. Tidcombe says she "was an intelligent woman, who knew more about the history of bookbinding, both trade, and non-trade, than other binders," a curiosity that was an asset to her both in the practice and the teaching of binding. She wrote a number of articles in the 1890s for "The Bookbinder" and the "The Library" in the U.K., and for "Scribner's Magazine" in the U.S. Eight of these articles are collected here: "Some English and Scottish Bindings of the Last Century," "Characteristics and Peculiarities of Roger Payne, Binder," "Les Relieures Français," "Design in Bookbinding," "Some French Binders of To-day," "Early Stamped Bindings," "Early Italian Bindings," and "Some Notes on Pattern-making."

It is fitting that a significant work on the craft should be in such a lovely binding, and this copy was executed by one of the premier binderies in England, the Zaehnsdorf firm, which employed a considerable number of distinguished binders and trained a number of others, including Roger de Coverly and Prideaux herself. It would be hard to find a copy of this work finer provenance: from the collection of Prideaux's former teacher, the great French binder Léon Gruel (1841-1923).

In this book, Prideaux says that the Gruel firm, founded in 1811, "always had the highest reputation . . . for initiative in artistic matters, as well as for irreproachable execution in the detail of its many-sided achievements." The business was managed by several family members over the years, and the list of binders who trained at the Gruel atelier is the most distinguished in Europe. Item #02224

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