London: Arthur L. Humphreys, 1905. Item #05092
A Most Unusual Cosway-Style Binding by Cedric Chivers of Bath
[COSWAY-STYLE BINDING]. CHIVERS, Cedric, binder. NOLHAC, Pierre de. Marie Antoinette. London: Arthur L. Humphreys, 1905. Reprinted from the Illustrated Edition of Marie Antoinette the Queen by permission of Messrs Goupil & Company.
Octavo (8 1/8 x 5 3/4 inches; 208 x 146 mm.). [viii], 268 pp. Title-page printed in red & black.
A most unusual Cosway-Style Binding ca. 1920 by Cedric Chivers for the London Bookseller Chas. J. Sawyer, stamp signed in gilt on rear turn-in. Full vellum over beveled boards, front cover richly decorated with a swirling floral gilt design with the flowers hand painted in red and green (colors faded). In the lower right-hand corner is an oval inlay of black morocco with the monogram of Marie Antoinette in gilt surrounded by leaves and the Queen's crown in gilt. At the top left-hand corner is a very fine hand-painted portrait miniature of Marie Antoinette, set under glass within a gilt metal frame surrounded by gilt dots and four sets of three red semi-precious stones (one stone missing). The rear cover with a similar floral design and the arms of Marie Antoinette in gilt. Smooth spine withsimilar gilt floral design, black morocco label lettered in gilt. Decorative gilt board edges and turn-ins, cream watered silk liners and endleaves, all edges rough gilt. Housed in the original velvet-lined blue buckram clamshell case, spine with black morocco label lettered in gilt. Fine.
The quality of the miniature is quite superb and could most possibly have been painted by Miss C.B. Currie.
We have owned this book once before in 1990. We have handled many Chivers bindings over the past fifty-five years but we have never seen another Cosway-Style binding by Cedric Chivers.
Cedric Chivers (1853 - 1929), a seven-term mayor of Bath, first exhibited and patented his "vellucent" method of decorative bookbinding in 1898. “In his large bindery at Portway, Bath, [Cedric] 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 Carl[e]ton 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 Carl[e]ton Smyth” (Marianne Tidcombe, Women Bookbinders 1880-1920, p. 86).
Chas J. Sawyer (1906-1990) was a London bookselling firm specializing in the finest books. It is most likely that they supplied the miniature to Cedric Chivers when placing the binding order.
Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) was the last queen of France before the French Revolution. She was born an archduchess of Austria and was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I. She became dauphine of France in May 1770 at age 14 upon her marriage to Louis-Auguste, heir apparent to the French throne. On 10 May 1774, her husband ascended the throne as Louis XVI and she became queen.