1797 · London
Inlaid binding by John Mackinlay (1737 – 1821), with his book tag No. 8 Bow Street, Covent Garden on the inside front cover of both volumes. According to Ellic Howe in A List of London Bookbinders 1648 – 1815, Mackinlay was referred to as "the living father of the bibliopegistic art" by Dibdin (Bibliographical Decameron, ii. 519). This shop at 8 Bow Street burned down with Covent Garden in 1808. At the height of Mackinlay's success, he employed 8 – 9 men, among them 3 finishers. He was by all accounts a colorful personality and known variously as "Black Jock"and "a dirty old brute." Ellic Howe pointed out many anecdotes about John Mackinlay were "not fit for polite society." Of his bindings listed as being in the British Museum by Ellic Howe in 1850 were: G. 11795-811, G. 11958-65, G. 11969-77. In Howe's mind these were the set of Dugdale's Monasticon praised by Dibdin. Front and back covers of both of these volumes are ruled in gold within which is an intertwined beaded and leaved border decoration. Inside a second, inner panel, also ruled out in gold, is a black morocco inlay on the mottled brown calf, around which is a gold stamped oval border. In the center of the oval is a gowned and plumed female deity in gold, with down-cast eyes, holding a staff in her right hand and gesturing with her up-raised left arm and hand.
Sold with this copy is a letter from Wilwarth Sheldon Lewis, W.S. Lewis, who signed himself as "Lefty." The letter is on The Lewis Walpole Library stationery and addressed to a fellow Eli, Lucius F. Robinson, Jr., to whom this book belonged. W.S. Lewis indicates that the repairs made to both volumes were done by Glenn Bissell in 1970, the date of the letter. Volume 1 has been rebacked, with some of the original labels laid back down. Volume 2 has had its covers reinforced, head band partially gone, chipped at the foot of the spine. Some off-setting from the portraits as is normal for a title this old. (Inventory #: 180)