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About This Item

London: F. S. Ellis, 1871. FIRST EDITION. 190 x 130 mm. (7 1/2 x 5 1/8"). viii, 287 pp.
VERY PRETTY HONEY-BROWN MOROCCO, LAVISHLY GILT, BY ZAEHNSDORF (stamp-signed on front turn-in and with gilt exhibition stamp on rear pastedown), covers with plain gilt rules framing a central panel semé with intricate urn tools trailing leafy vines alternating with heart-shaped compartments formed by vines containing a bird in flight, raised bands, spine compartments alternating bird or urn tool, gilt titling, turn-ins with repeating lovebird or olive branch tools, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Front pastedown with engraved bookplate of Leonard Noble dated 1893. ◆Spine slightly and evenly sunned, a couple of pages with small marginal stain, other trivial imperfections, but A VERY ATTRACTIVE COPY--clean and fresh internally with ample margins, and the binding bright with gilt and showing few signs of wear.

In a lovely binding, this is the first appearance of a collection of poems that marked a significant change in tone for Swinburne, from personal confession to political awareness and what DNB terms "a humanist positivism." Swinburne (1837-1909) was a virtuoso of verse, able to produce dazzling and enthralling lines in a wide range of meters and stanzaic forms. He was also a shocking pagan in terms of the content of his poetry, a significant portion of which was erotic. This work, a collection of poems calling for the overthrow of political and ideological despotism of all sorts, contains, in DNB's opinion, "at least two of Swinburne's best poems, 'Hertha' and 'Before a Crucifix,' as well as the rhetorically impressive 'Hymn of Man.'" It was inspired by the struggle of Swinburne's hero, Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72), an Italian politician, activist, journalist, and staunch republican proponent of a unified Italy. Our binding is a fine example of the work of the Zaehnsdorf firm, long a top-ranked English bindery. Born in Pest, Hungary, Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-86) served his apprenticeship in Stuttgart, worked at a number of European locations as a journeyman, and then settled in London, where he was hired first by Westley and then by Mackenzie before opening his own workshop in 1842. His son and namesake took over the business at age 33, when the senior Joseph died, and the firm flourished under the son's leadership, becoming a leading West End bindery. Over the years, Zaehnsdorf employed a considerable number of distinguished binders, including the Frenchman Louis Genth (who was chief finisher from 1859-84), and trained a number of others, including Roger de Coverly and Sarah Prideaux. A family-run business until 1947, the Zaehnsdorf bindery continued to produce consistently attractive and innovative designs executed with unfailing skill. It is generally felt that the firm reserved the use of its oval stamp showing a binder at work (seen here) for their finest bindings, including those entered in exhibitions..


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Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts US (US)
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Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

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About the Seller

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2006
McMinnville, Oregon
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About Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books an Manuscripts was established in 1978 on a ping pong table in a basement in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From the beginning, its founder was willing to sell a range of material, but over the years, the business has gravitated toward historical artifacts that are physically attractive in some way--illuminated material, fine bindings, books printed on vellum, fore-edge paintings, beautiful typography and paper, impressive illustration. Today, the company still sells a wide range of things, from (scruffy) ninth century leaves to biblical material from all periods to Wing and STC imprints to modern private press books to artists' bindings. While we are forgiving about condition when something is of considerable rarity, we always try to obtain the most attractive copies possible of whatever we offer for sale.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also...
Raised Band(s)
Raised bands refer to the ridges that protrude slightly from the spine on leather bound books. The bands are created in the...
Damage done to a book cover or dust jacket caused by exposure to direct sunlight. Very strong fluorescent light can cause slight...
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in...
Top Edge Gilt
Top edge gilt refers to the practice of applying gold or a gold-like finish to the top of the text block (the edges the pages...
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...
Highly sought after by some collectors, a book plate is an inscribed or decorative device that identifies the owner, or former...
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...

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