3 June 2009
THE PROPERTY OF A NOBLE FAMILY
ASHENDENE PRESS -- MORE, Thomas (1478-1535). A Fruteful and Pleasaunt Worke of the Beste State of a Publique Weale, and of the Newe Yle called Utopia ... translated into Englyshe by Raphe Robynson ... MDLI. Chelsea: Ashendene Press, 1906.
4° (280 x 189mm). Printed on vellum in Subiaco type. Headings, marginal notes and opening initials after Eric Gill in red. (Some curling of leaves, a little light marginal spotting towards end.) Brown morocco over wooden boards by W.H. Smith bindery, signed on rear turn-in, spine compartments directly lettered and dated in gilt, sides with repeated foliate decoration in blind and gilt extending from bands. Provenance: 'To W.F.D. & Esther Smith from St John & Cicely Hornby. Christmas 1906' (inscription in red ink on front free endpaper; with further inscription from Hornby to the Smiths on Shelley House paper, loosely inserted) -- William Henry Smith, 3rd Viscount Hambleden (1903-1948, bookplate).
PRESENTATION COPY, ONE OF 20 COPIES ON VELLUM in an edition of 120 copies, 'printed by St John Hornby, with the help of Meysey Turton and G. Faulkner, at the Ashendene Press'. A reprint of the 1521 edition of More's Utopia which was the first to be printed in England and the first in English. William Frederick Danvers Smith, second Viscount Hambleden (1868-1928), and St John Hornby were both friends and business colleagues. The former took over the family firm of W.H. Smith & Son after the death of his father, the first William Henry Smith (1825-1891). In 1893 he recruited Hornby to the firm, having rowed with him in the Oxford eight. 'Hornby proved a decisive businessman whose work sustained and enhanced the firm's performance. The high point of their collaboration was when Smith supported Hornby in launching a network of bookshops to compensate for the loss of the firm's [railway] bookstall contracts ... from 1901 to 1903' (ODNB). Hornby XXII.
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