HOBSON, Geoffrey Dudley (1882-1949). English Bindings 1490-1940 in the Library of J.R. Abbey. London: privately printed at the Chiswick Press, 1940.
Large 4o (334 x 247 mm). LIMITED EDITION OF 180 COPIES, SIGNED BY BOTH OWNER AND AUTHOR, this copy unnumbered. 131 binding reproductions including 12 splendid color plates. UNIQUE COPY, EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with six reproductions inserted at the end, on which "gold leaf was used instead of gold bronze which was used on the published plates" (inscription).
BOUND FOR THE AUTHOR BY SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE (London), signed and dated September 1940: gold-tooled dark-green crushed morocco over thick pasteboard, the sides, spine and turn-ins decorated with straight and curved fillets, author's monogram tooled in the center of the front cover, gilt edges, green silk liners, gilt coat-of-arms of G.D. Hobson on a rectangular morocco piece of the same color inside front cover, original printed wrappers and prospectus bound in. Buckram folding case. Provenance: G.D.Hobson (binding); loosely inserted is an autograph letter signed by Robert Brun of the Bibliothèque nationale to Mr. Hobson, dated 10th October 1945, expressing his profound admiration of the work and his gratitude for the presentation copy received.
THE AUTHOR'S OWN EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED COPY of this most handsome book, in a beautifully decorated binding of uncommon restraint by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, no doubt executed to Mr. Hobson's precise specifications. In a loosely inserted copy of a typed letter signed to Anthony Hobson, New York 21st April 1987, Bernard Breslauer throws some light on the extra plates here bound at the end: "I suddenly remembered their history, as Wilfred Merton told it me about forty years ago... Originally Abbey wanted Emery Walker Ltd. to do the plates of the book; I can't remember whether they were all going to be in gold and colour or not. In any case, Merton claimed to have discovered the secret of the plates in the Catalogue Dutuit [see lot 119] which he considered to be the finest reproductions of bookbindings ever done. The secret was that the colours were printed on top of a gold leaf ground, leaving the gold parts exposed -- the ususal method is to print the gold as an extra color on top of the other colors... Some trial plates were produced, but Abbey considered the method too expensive and demanded the adoption of a cheaper one. Whereupon Merton, whose professional standards and integrity were as high as his commercial acumen was low (if not simply non-existent) refused to have anything further to do with the publication, even refusing to charge Abbey for the work already done. Am I right in thinking that these six plates are the trial plates?"