London: George Newnes Limited, 1902. Item #04485
A Very Fine Cedric Chivers Morocco, Vellucent and Mother-of-Pearl Binding
CHIVERS, Cedric, binder. IRVING, Washington. SULLIVAN, Edmund J., illustrator. [Rip Van Winkle]. The Sketch Book by Washington Irving with illustrations by Edmund J. Sullivan. London: George Newnes Limited, 1902.
First edition with the Edmund J. Sullivan illustrations. Limited to 30 copies printed on Japanese vellum, signed by Edmund J. Sullivan, of which 25 are for sale, this being #24.
Octavo ( 7 3/4 x 5 1/8 inches; 197 x 130 mm.). Two volumes bound in one. xvi, 263, [1, imprint]; vii, [1, blank], 286, [1, imprint], [1, blank] pp. Title-pages printed in red and black. Pagination includes two separate limitation statements, each signed by Edmund J. Sullivan in black ink and both with the number "24" in red ink. Ten full-page plates with original tissue-guards. Some very light water-staining to the top margins of some of the plates and tissue guards, otherwise a very fine copy.
Bound ca. 1902 by Cedric Chivers (stamp-signed in gilt on rear turn-in " Bound by Cedric Chivers for Brentano's"). Full dark brown levant morocco over beveled boards, front cover triple-ruled in gilt surrounding a large rectangular panel measuring 5 7/8 x 3 1/8 inches containing a magnificent hand-painted vellucent and mother-of-pearl image of Rip Van Winkle within an elaborate window frame of inlaid brown morocco. Lower cover ruled in gilt, smooth spine with ornate gilt border and lettering. Gilt-ruled turn-ins, pink marbled end-papers, top edge gilt, others uncut. With the engraved bookplate of Agnes Dorothea Agar on front paste-down. A fine example of a Chivers morocco, vellucent and mother-of-pearl binding.
Cedric Chivers, established his business in 1878 in the premises formerly occupied by Robert Rivière in Union Street, Bath. They subsequently moved to a double fronted shop at 39 Gay Street and then, as the business expanded, to a large house at Portway in Combe Park where they operated until 1990. In its prime the company experimented and specialized in highly skilled and beautiful bindings; this example designed and executed by Una Sweet, being one of them. What is interesting is that the designer and artist Una Sweet was apparently unknown to Marianne Tidcombe - and we can find no information on her other than the description in the original 1903 Chivers catalog.
“In his large bindery at Portway, Bath, Chivers employed about forty women for folding, sewing, mending, and collating work, and in addition, five more women worked in a separate department, to design, illuminate, and colour vellum for book decoration, and to work on embossed leather. These five were Dorothy Carleton Smyth, Alice Shepherd, Miss J.D. Dunn, Muriel Taylor, and Agatha Gales. Most Vellucent bindings were designed by H. Granville Fell, but the woman most frequently employed for this kind of work was probably Dorothy Carleton Smyth. Alice Sheherd did some of the painting, and also produced designs for gold tooling around Vellucent panels; however she is best known for the cut and embossed leatherwork she did for Chivers. Chivers, at times also employed other women to work for him, in their own homes or studios. Probably the most talented woman designer Chivers employed was the Scottish artist Jessie M. King. Jessie King (1878-1949) attended the Glasgow School of Art. ” (Marianne Tidcombe, Women Bookbinders 1880-1920, p. 86-87).
Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", both of which appear in his collection, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869–1933), usually known as E. J. Sullivan, was a British book illustrator who worked in a style which merged the British tradition of illustration from the 1860's with aspects of the Art Nouveau style.
Brentano's was founded as an independent bookstore in New York City in 1853 by August Brentano, who established a newsstand in front of the New York Hotel. The first branch store for the company was opened in Washington, D.C. in 1883. A year later, a second branch store was opened in Chicago in 1884. Simon Brentano served as president of the firm until his death in 1915. He was replaced by his brother Arthur. By 1928, Brentano's had four stores outside of New York City, in Washington, Chicago, London, and Paris. On the eve of the Great Depression, the firm expanded rapidly to become the largest bookstore chain in the nation with four stores in New York City, plus single stores in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington. Unfortunately, the firm acquired a lot of debt in the process and its creditors forced the company to reorganize in 1930 while still allowing the Brentano family to manage the chain. Even though the company continued to have cash flow problems, the company went ahead and opened their tenth store within the United States in Pittsburgh in 1930. Brentano's would often commission unique bindings by Cedric Chivers for their special clients. This example is one of those 'special orders' and is on a remarkable rare book.