London: Macmillan and Co., 1869. Item #04630
Alice in Wonderland in a Cosway Binding with a Fine Miniature Watercolor by Miss C.B. Currie
The March Hare and the Mad Hatter dipping the Dormouse into the Teapot…
COSWAY BINDING. RIVIÈRE & SON, binders. CURRIE, Miss C.B., artist. CARROLL, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With Forty-Two Illustrations by John Tenniel. London: Macmillan and Co., 1869.
Sixteenth Thousand. Octavo (7 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches; 185 x 121 mm.). [xii], 192 pp. Wood-engraved text illustrations.
Bound ca. 1910 by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed in gilt on the front turn-in) for Henry Sotheran (stamp-signed in black on the front free endpaper). Full brown crushed levant morocco. Covers decoratively paneled in gilt, spine with five raised bands decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, double-ruled gilt board edges, wide turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt, cream silk moiré doublures and liners, all edges gilt. Upper joint expertly repaired.
Front cover set with a fine 2 3/4 inch diameter watercolor portrait miniature under glass by Miss C.B. Currie of the March Hare and the Mad Hatter dipping the Dormouse into the Teapot. The miniature surrounded by a gilt pointille frame with a fine gilt floral design framing the quote "The end of the tea-party". Stamp-signed on the front doublure "Miniatures by C.B. Currie" and on the rear doublure “Bound by Rivière & Son from designs by J.H. Stonehouse." Original red cloth covers and spine bound in at end.
An attractive example of a Cosway binding. Housed in it's original felt-lined, brown cloth slipcase.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, the London bookselling firm of Henry Sotheran & Co., introduced a type of binding that was decorative, had historic associations, and catered to the level of quality expected by connoisseurs at the time. Between 1902 and 1903, John Harrison Stonehouse (1864–1937), managing director of Sotheran’s, created what came to be referred to as “Cosway bindings.” These were named after the celebrated eighteenth-century English portrait miniaturist Richard Cosway (1742–1821). Cosway bindings are distinguished by their attractive, finely painted miniatures on ivory that are protected by glass and inset into the covers or doublures (inside covers) of elegantly tooled books. Stonehouse’s success with the bindings was due in part to his employment of skilled miniaturist, Miss C. B. Currie. It has been estimated that Miss Currie painted several thousand miniatures, recognized for their delicate rendering and precision, for over nine hundred bindings before her death circa 1940. For many of the more lavish Cosway bindings, Currie painted multiple portraits. Occasionally, landscapes and other subjects adorn the covers or doublures. To enhance Currie’s miniatures, Stonehouse arranged for the London firm of Rivière & Son to produce a variety of high-quality single-volume bindings. One of the best large-scale binderies active in the first quarter of the twentieth century, Rivière & Son integrated the miniatures into bindings for both previously published editions and new works. Stonehouse marketed Sotheran’s finished Cosway-bound volumes primarily to booksellers in the United States or to American agents. Before Sotheran’s 1911 catalogue, in which they identified the miniature artist as Miss Currie, the miniatures are attributable only by their recognizable style. By 1913, the bindings are distinguished by a limitation statement on a colophon leaf (where a publisher’s emblem or trademark is placed), which provides the number of the Cosway binding with facsimile signatures of Stonehouse and Miss Currie. The customary gilt-stamped signature on the turn-in is generally lettered: “Bound by Riviére & Son from Designs by J. H. Stonehouse” and “Miniatures by C. B. Currie.” Competitors, intrigued by the marketing potential of Sotheran’s Cosway volumes, began copying the bindings soon after their initial introduction. Although the fashion for Cosway bindings diminished after World War II, the London binderies of Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Morrell continued to produce morocco-bound volumes with inset miniature paintings. Perhaps the most prolific follower has been the still existing English firm of George Bayntun, who acquired the Rivière stock of binding tools in 1939.