London: George Bell and Sons, 1899. Item #02347
An Exhibition Binding By Zaehnsdorf
[ZAEHNSDORF, binders]. SHAKESPEARE, William. The Sonnets of William Shakespeare. London: George Bell and Sons, 1899.
Octavo (6 1/4 x 4 1/2 in; 159 x 122 mm).  pp. Printed by the Chiswick Press. Borders and initials by Christopher Dean.
Contemporary exhibition binding by Zaehnsdorf (stamp-signed to front free endpaper, with exhibition blindstamp on rear paste-down endpaper) of full black crushed morocco with repeating pattern of gilt WS initials within laurels, and gilt tooled roses, rosettes, and closed and open dots, the design reiterated on spine. Gilt-rolled edges. Turn-ins with gilt roses and stems. Blue silk endleaves. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Expert and almost invisible restoration to spine tips, gilt on spine a little dull. An exceptional Zaehnsdorf Exhibition binding.
"There are few firms of craft bookbinders that can claim an existence of longer than one hundred years. One which can is Zaehnsdorf Limited, founded in 1842 by Joseph Zaehnsdorf. It remained under the direct control of three successive generations of the Zaehnsdorf family...Bindings produced by the firm of Zaehnsdorf are still admired today the excellence of craftsmanship which they display" (Broomhead, The Zaehnsdorfs (1842-1947): Craft Bookbinders, p. 11).
The Chiswick Press was founded by Charles Whittingham I (1767-1840) in 1811. The management of the Press was taken over in 1840 by the founder's nephew Charles Whittingham II (1795-1876). The name was first used in 1811, and the Press continued to operate until 1962. Charles Whittingham I gained notoriety for his popularly priced classics, but the Chiswick Press became very influential in English printing and typography under Charles Whittingham II who, most notably, published some of the early designs of William Morris. The Chiswick Press deserves conspicuous credit for the reintroduction of quality printing into the trade in England when in 1844 it produced The Diary of Lady Willoughby (1844-47) set in the reign of Charles l.