London: John Murray, 1909. Item #04904
An Amazing Sangorski & Sutcliffe Cosway-Style Jeweled Binding
[COSWAY-STYLE JEWELED BINDING]. SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE, binders. YOUNG, Colonel G.F. The Medici. With Portraits and Illustrations. In two volumes. London: John Murray, 1909.
First edition. Two large octavo volumes. (8 5/8 x 5 9/16 inches; 220 x 141 mm). xxv, [1, blank], , [1, blank], -538; xii, 576 pp. 100 black and white plates.
A spectacular Cosway-Style 'Jeweled' binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe ca. 1920 (stamp-signed in gilt on rear turn-in). Full crimson crushed levant morocco over beveled boards, lavishly gilt and inlaid in the Art Nouveau style. Covers with inlaid central oval of royal blue morocco with the House of Medici emblem of eight large gilt circles surrounded by double gilt border. Around the central inlay is a border of eight green morocco oval inlays finely decorated in gilt with eight small flowers. Surrounding the central panel is an onlaid Grolieresque strap-work design in green and black morocco, elaborately decorated in gilt in a floral design, many of the leaves onlaid in green morocco. Spines with five raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments. Four of the compartments have alternating onlaid green and black morocco strap-work borders each surrounding four gilt Medici emblems. Double gilt-ruled board edges and elaborate gilt turn-ins, dark blue watered silk liners and endleaves, all edges gilt.
The first volume has a doublure of dark blue crushed levant morocco, multi-ruled in gilt. In the center is a superb gilt framed, hand-painted portrait miniature (3 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches; 90 x 70 mm.) of Catherine de' Medici. The miniature is surrounded by a rectangular recessed frame set with sixteen rectangular strips of abalone, eight rubies and eight pearls, all decorated in fine pointillé. The front cover of volume II has been expertly and almost invisibly repaired. Housed in the original red cloth 'drop-back' case with blue velvet lining and two red morocco spines, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt.
A wonderful early Sangorski & Sutcliffe Cosway-style jeweled binding. The miniature is of exceptional quality and is quite possibly the work of Miss C.B. Currie. This set was specially bound by S & S for Ohio book collector B.C. Hoffman with his initials in gilt on lower front doublure of volume one.
"The book, The Medici, embodying the history of that great family, is unique, suggestive of Gibbon's Decline and Fall; it deals with smaller things, to be sure, for Gibbon describes the downfall of an empire while Colonel Young's subject is only a family; he goes further than the greatest historian, however,, for he begins with the entrance of the family upon the field of human achievement and he traces it to its zenith before he descends to the ultimate end.
"And such a family as it was. Here is the romantic and almost unbelievable account of a line of merchants and bankers who became sovereign Princes and placed representatives upon the thrones of France, England, Spain, Austria, and the empire, whose blood has mingled with that of every royal family in Europe; a family so powerful, wielding such commanding influence, that it was able finally to lodge one of its bastards upon the throne of St. Peter and decorate his brow with a Papal tiara" (NY Times review, April 23, 1910).
Sangorski & Sutcliffe, one of the leading bookbinders in London, was established in 1901 by Francis Sangorski (1875-1912) and George Sutcliffe (1878-1943). It is considered to be one of the most important bookbinding companies of the twentieth century, famous for its highly luxurious bindings. .