London: Methuen and Co., 1898. Item #05495
“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
The Poems of William Shakespeare
Handsomely Bound by Roger de Coverly & Sons
SHAKESPEARE, William. (DE COVERLY, Roger & Sons, Binders). The Poems of Shakespeare. Edited with an introduction and notes by George Wyndham. London: Methuen and Co., 1898.
First edition, thus. Octavo (8 3/8 x 5 5/8 inches; 213 x 142 mm.). , [1-v], vi-cxlxii [introduction], [1, blank], [1-3], 4-343, [1, imprint] pp. Title-page printed in red and black.
Handsomely bound ca. 1900 by Roger De Coverly & Sons (stamp-signed in gilt on rear turn-in). Full medium green morocco, covers paneled in gilt surrounding an elaborate 'symmetrical' thistle design, spine with five raised bands decorated with gilt thistles and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt board-edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Small neat ink inscription on front blank, half page ink inscription on second blank. Minimal darkening to spine otherwise fine.
"The bookbinding career of Roger de Coverly (1831-1914) seems to be characterised by a desire to leave it! His apprenticeship with the flourishing firm of Zaehnsdorf’s was so “colourless and humdrum” that he petitioned for time off to study the violin. His name recalls a 17th century English folk dance but his passion was for music, not dancing, and this sustained him throughout his life. Roger completed his apprenticeship (but left early albeit with Zaehnsdorf’s agreement). He decided to try bookselling and applied to Mr Lilley of Pall Mall who could not offer employment but strongly recommended that Roger stuck with binding! After assisting in a stationer’s shop, Roger rededicated himself to his original trade. When Roger established his own workshop (in Leicester Square and later 6 St Martin’s Court and 91 Shaftsbury Avenue), there was little time for the extra- curricular activities he loved. As a one man band, he had to ‘forward’ and ‘finish’ the bindings himself. His wife Elisabeth contributed financially by opening a school for young ladies. Slowly, however, the bindings business began to flourish. It was patronised by aristocrats, noted writers (for example T E Lawrence) and artists. His style was rather conservative and retrospective but the good quality materials used and his stated goal, to bind “excellently rather than cheaply” made up for lack of originality, for some at least. Fortunately, Roger’s sons Edward, Arthur and William proved adept at bookbinding and bookselling. By 1892, Roger was able to confess in an interview that “he does not now give his whole attention to his binding business, having besides one or two hobbies; he is an enthusiastic amateur musician and collector of old music … ; he has founded two or three glee and madrigal societies and loves above all to take part in orchestral concerts or string quartets, varied with glee singing. He is a member of the Royal Choral Society". The connection between the name of de Coverly and bookbinding lasted into the 1960s when H[orace] A. de Coverly was known to have bound, taught and written about the subject. An example of his work can be seen in the Library’s online image database of bookbindings." (P J M Marks
Curator, Bookbindings; Printed Historical Sources, The British Library).