Milan: Fratelli Ubicini, 1835. Item #05221
A Remarkable 1835 Hand-Colored 'Relievo' Binding in its Original Slipcase
[RELIEVO BINDING]. Almanacco per l'Anno 1835 Versi d'amore e Prose de romanzi. Milan: Fratelli Ubicini, 1835.
Small octavo (5 13/16 x 3 3/4 inches; 147 x 96 mm.). [xii], -250, [2, imprint, verso blank] pp. Engraved portrait frontispiece, vignette title-page. Engraved calendar and six full-page engraved plates (five with original tissue-guards).
A superb 'Relievo' binding of 1835. Full black morocco, covers embossed with a thick gilt border with onlaid red and yellow morocco floral decorations. The rectangular center panel on both boards contain a 'papier relief' of two colorful birds sitting on floral branches. Smooth spine decoratively tooled in gilt with small red and yellow onlays, green watered paper endleaves (strengthened at joints), all edges gilt. Central decoration with some rubbing of colors. Housed in the original dark blue straight-grain morocco slipcase, decoratively ruled in gilt with gilt fleuron corner-pieces. Ink inscription on front blank dated 1853. Tiny 1/8 inch split at top of spine, otherwise very fine.
A very pretty little Almanac with fine engraved plates and in a quite remarkable 'Relievo' binding, particularly rare and interesting as the center panels are hand-colored. Equally unusual is that it has its original dark blue straight-grain morocco slipcase.
This Italian 'Relievo' binding precedes by some 15 years the British “Relievo” binding process, which was patented by Frederick Leake, heavily molded and embossed leather and recalled both medieval books and wood carvings. Many of these bindings were designed by Owen Jones for use on ecclesiastical books. As with papier-mâché bindings, the actual binding work was carried out by trade binders, frequently Remnant & Edwards, who won a prize for them at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Owen Jones’ version of Gray’s Elegy was the first book issued in a “Relievo” binding and the first example of a title page with the names of both the London and New York publishers. Jones used the native British flora holly and ivy as the main motif: the central rectangle of the back cover holds Jones’ monogram, Considered to be Owen Jones’ greatest work of the 1860s and one of the last “Relievo” bindings… these bindings were not hand-colored - it was in fact either Bayntun or Cedric Chivers, both of Bath, England that developed the process.