London: George E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode [and] William Clowes and Sons, Limited, 1882. Item #03966
A Fine and Unusual Pair of Birdsall of Northampton 'Vellucent' Bindings
Housed in Their Original Leather Slipcase
BIRDSALL of Northampton, binders. The Book of Common Prayer… [and] Hymns Ancient and Modern. London: George E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode [&] William Clowes and Sons, Limited, [ca. 1882].
Two sixteenmo volumes (5 5/8 x 3 7/16 inches; 143 x 87 mm.).
Delicately bound ca. 1882 by Birdsall of Northampton (stamp-signed in gilt on lower front turn-ins). Each volume in a full 'vellucent' binding over beveled boards. Covers decoratively bordered in hand-painted pink and blue surrounded by gilt lines, each enclosing a decorative panel of thirty-nine hand-painted red and white flowers stamped in outline in gilt, and thirty-eight hand-painted small brown dots. Spines decoratively bordered in hand-painted blue surrounded by gilt lines. Decoratively titled in gilt within another gilt border "Common Prayer" [&] "Hymns, Ancient & Modern", gilt board-edges and gilt ruled turn-ins surrounding another hand-painted pink border. Decorative tan and gold silk-paper paste-downs and end-leaves, all edges gilt. Some very minor rubbing to the hand-painted blue border on the front cover of "Hymns". Both volumes housed in the original silk-lined buff morocco slipcase, shaped at edges and ruled in gilt.
A remarkable survival. Neat ink note "M.C.S.D. April 6th. 1882" on both front blanks.
Vellucent bindings are most often ascribed to Chivers of Bath - this is the first example by Birdsall of Northampton that we have ever seen.
The roots of Birdsall of Northampton "stretch back to the early eighteenth century but it was in 1792 that John Lacy's Northampton bindery was acquired by William Birdsall, continuing in his family until 1961...In Birdsall's heyday, Gerring (Notes on Bookbinding, 1899) reported a staff of 250 engaged in making ladies handbags, fancy boxes, and stationary; as well as all types of bookbinding. The firm seemed always ready to experiment and careful records and samples were kept by Richard Birdsall, great-great-nephew of the founder, until he died in 1909...The firm's collection of over 3,000 finishing tools passed to the University of Toronto" (Maggs, Bookbinding in the British Isles II, #262, and #321).
Out of stock