Campden, Gloucestershire: Essex House Press, 1905. Item #04964
You're my friend: I was the man the Duke spoke to;
I helped the Duchess to cast off his yoke, too;
So here's the tale from beginning to end, My friend!
ESSEX HOUSE PRESS. BROWNING, Robert. THE BELVOIR BINDERY.
The Flight of the Duchess. Campden: Essex House Press, 1905.
One of 125 copies, all printed on vellum (this being no. 123).
Small octavo (7 1/4 x 4 7/8 inches; 184 x 124 mm.). 42 pp. Hand colored frontispiece by Paul Woodroffe, hand-painted initials throughout, printers device on colophon.
Bound ca. 1905 by The "Belvoir" Bindery (stamp-signed in gilt on front paste-down). Full sage green crushed levant morocco, covers with central panel and four rounded side panels formed by gilt rules, the corners with a spray of five inlaid red morocco water lilies and gilt foliage. Smooth spine vertically lettered in gilt and decoratively tooled with foliate extensions. Gilt-dotted board edges, gilt rolled turn-ins, vellum liners and endleaves, all edges gilt. A very, very pretty little binding in near mint condition.
A lovely copy of the fourteenth, and last, of the Essex House "Great Poems Series," in a very attractive binding by the respected craftsman and teacher James Samuel Hewitt-Bates at his Belvoir Bindery.
J.S. Hewitt-Bates (born 1864) taught bookbinding at the Leicester School of Art and also operated a bindery on Belvoir Road in that city. A disciple of William Morris and an enthusiastic participant in the Arts & Crafts Movement, he was the author of a number of works on bookbinding, including the pamphlet included with this binding, which reprints an essay he wrote for the journal "The Bibliophile" outlining his philosophy of bookbinding. According to Bates "The principles which ought to govern the right and proper binding of a book are strength, durability and fitness… The decoration of a book ought to be in harmony with the nature of the work. The design ought always to be simple and flat without shading." He emphasizes the importance of high-quality materials, sound construction and expert forwarding.
This actual binding is featured on a full-page black and white photograph facing p. 6. on his promotional pamphlet for The Belvoir Bindery, entitled "Bookbinding for the Book-Lover" (circa 1918, 40 pp., brown pictorial wrappers with many full-page photos of bindings). Bates' qualifications and skills as a bookbinder are treated in the work, citing awards of First Class Honors, First Prizeman, Silver Medallist of the City and Guilds of London Institute and holder of the Skinnerís Company Prize.
"After Kelmscott had closed, several of the workmen employed there moved to the Essex House Press, started by C.R. Ashbee in 1898 as an addition to the several crafts practiced at his 10-year-old Guild of Handicrafts, originally at Essex House in Mile End Road, London. It was different from the other private affairs of the time in that it was deliberately conceived as a part of a larger whole… The Essex House Press was then an Arts and Crafts press par excellence; no doubt as a result of Ashbee's work in other crafts, such as jewelry and metalwork, it reveals more of Art Nouveau in many of its books than one would have expected from so devoted a follower of Morris. (Cave. The Private Press, pp. 125-125).
"Three other important presses date from the nineties - Eragny, Essex House and Ashendene… The Essex House Press was one of several activities of the Guild of Handicraft founded and led by C.R. Ashbee, first in the Mile End Road, later at Campden in Gloucestershire. The books and bindings were often excellent, experimental and generally small… The Press began in 1898, consciously to carry on the traditions of William Morris, and continued to issue books almost until the Great War; but the whole enterprise is perhaps most interesting in the context of Guild Socialism and the application of ideas which had been preached by Ruskin and Morris." (Franklin. The Private Presses, pp. 10-11)
Franklin. The Private Presses, p. 201; Cave. The Private Press, pp. 124-125.