East Aurora, NY: Roycrofters, 1900. Item #04629
A Beautiful 'Roycroft' Binding
ROYCROFT BINDERY. KINDER, Louis, binder? RUSKIN, John. The King of the Golden River. A Legend of Stiria written in 1841 by John Ruskin, the same being a tale for Young folks and their Elders. East Aurora, NY: Roycrofters, 1900.
Small quarto (7 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches; 197 x 146b mm.).[iv], 75, [1, colophon], [1, colored printer's device], [1, blank] pp.
Frontispiece portrait of John Ruskin on India paper. Title-page with decorative color border, text leaves with running title 'The Golden River' printed in red.
Bound by the Roycroft Bindery in 1900 (stamp-signed 'Roycroft' on front turn-in. Full green crushed levant morocco, front cover bordered in gilt enclosing an intricate gilt design of flowers and stems, with a gilt crown in each corner. Rear cover with a less elaborate gilt design, spine with five raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt ruled board edges, wide turns ins decoratively tooled in gilt, green marbled liners and end-leaves, top edge gilt, others uncut. A very fine example house in it's original green felt-lined, marbled paper over boards clamshell case.
The name "Roycroft" was chosen after the printers, Samuel and Thomas Roycroft, who made books in London from about 1650–1690. And beyond this, the word Roycroft had a special significance to Elbert Hubbard, meaning King's Craft. In guilds of early modern Europe, King's craftsmen were guild members who had achieved a high degree of skill and therefore made things for the King. The Roycroft insignia was borrowed from the monk Cassiodorus, a 13th-century bookbinder and illuminator. Bookbinders at the Roycroft included Peter Franck, Harry Avery, and Louis Kinder. It is not unusual for a Louis Kinder binding to be unsigned.
Elbert Green Hubbard (1856-1915) was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher who had been influenced by the ideas of William Morris on a visit to England. He was unable to find a publisher for his book Little Journeys, so inspired by Morris's Kelmscott Press, decided to set up his own private press to print the book himself, founding the Roycroft Press. His championing of the Arts and Crafts approach attracted a number of visiting craftspeople to East Aurora, and they formed a community of printers, furniture makers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths, and bookbinders.
Fourteen original Roycroft buildings are located in the area of South Grove and Main Street in East Aurora. Known as the "Roycroft Campus", this rare survival of an art colony was awarded National Historic Landmark status in 1986.
The Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum, housed in the George and Gladys Scheidemantel House, in East Aurora is the main collection and research centre for the work of the Roycrofters.
The Arts and Crafts Movement was an aesthetic movement that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Begun in Britain by social reformers Walter Crane and John Ruskin, and designer William Morris, it was a reaction against the tastes of the Victorian era and the “soulless” machine-made products of the emerging Industrial Revolution. Their belief was that good design correlated to the notion of a good society. Workers under hardship by the working conditions and machines found in factories often created goods that were poor in design and quality. The movement’s aim was to re-establish a harmony between architect, designer and craftsman, and to produce handmade, well-designed, affordable, everyday objects. These products would enhance the lives of ordinary people while providing fulfilling work for the craftsman.
Inspired by Morris, Elbert G. Hubbard acquired a printing press of his own and established the Roycroft Press in East Aurora, New York. Within a few years it would grow into the Roycroft Shops (1895-1938) boasted a bindery, leather, furniture and metalwork shops, and a stained-glass studio. The Campus would become a vanguard of the creation of the uniquely American “Arts and Crafts” style, a decorative arts design that emphasizes spare, clean lines and simplicity of design.
John Ruskin (1819–1900), “English author and artist, whose The King of the Golden River might be regarded as the first English fairy story for children. Though it was not published until 1851, seven years after Francis Paget's The Hope of the Katzekopfs, it was in fact written in 1841 for 12-year-old Effie Gray, whom he later married. It is a story of the three brothers of tradition, two bad, the youngest good, and their reception of a supernatural visitor, the South West Wind. Ruskin described it himself as ‘a fairly good imitation of Grimm and Dickens, mixed with some true Alpine feeling of my own’, but the South West Wind is a powerful and original character, described by Stephen Prickett [in Victorian Fantasy (1979)] as the ‘first magical personage to show that combination of kindliness and eccentric irascibility that was to appear so strongly in a whole tradition of subsequent literature’. Richard Doyle, who illustrated the original edition, made a striking drawing of him. Edgar Taylor’s translation of the Grimms’ stories with illustrations by George Cruikshank was published in 1823; in Praeterita Ruskin recorded how he had copied these when he was 10 or 11. The book was reissued in 1868 with an introduction by Ruskin in which he spoke of the value of the traditional tales, with their power ‘to fortify children against the glacial cold of selfish science’—a sentiment which lies at the heart of his own story” (The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales).