Pre-Raphaelitism - Lectures on Architecture and Painting
1906·London and New York
by Ruskin, John
London and New York: J. M. Dent; E. P. Dutton. Near Fine in Very Good- dust jacket. 1906. First Edition Thus; First Printing. Hardcover. xvi,  & 412 pages; Publisher's maroon limp imitation leather, corners rounded, spine and front cover stamped in gilt, top edges gilt, decorative endpapers & title page. With the rare original dust jacket, printed entirely in red. First edition (American issue) of the first Everyman's library edition of this title by John Ruskin -- undated, as issued, but either from the last part of 1906 or early in 1907. Those seeking a copy of these Ruskin essays to read, will see the price and likely turn elsewhere. But for collectors of the early issues of the groundbreaking low-cost Everyman's Library, first issued in 1906 -- this is a remarkably well-preserved copy of #218 in this distinguished series, in the scarce leather-like binding with the rounded corners (which cost double the price of the normal cloth-bound issues), which has been kept fresh by the presence of something which nearly all the purchasers of these Edwardian "Everyman's Library" volumes discarded immediately -- its original dust jacket. Fortunately, details of nearly every aspect of collecting "Everyman's" is available on the internet [at everymanslibrarycollecting]. The details of issue are as follows. First, the book and its binding. This binding has a spine that is identical to the standard flat spine, with an additional floral gilt design on the cover. The corners of the binding are rounded, and the top edges of the pages are gilt. A silk book marker is also bound in. It originally sold in Great Britain for two shillings--twice the price of the standard cloth copies, and these leather-like bindingswere available for the early years of the series only. One part of the site suggests that they were only marketed until 1918; I think they may have been available in the booktrade for a few years past this date, but certainly before the beginnings of the second World War, they were gone. The endpapers are the handsome figured woodcut-like design by Reginald L. Knowles: pale yellow endpapers illustrating the figure of "Good Deeds" from the medieval play 'Everyman,' facing her sister Knowledge's pledge, which is the series motto: "Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side." This legend is repeated stamped in gilt on the front cover (a decorative feature of these extra-cost leatherette bindings only). In another feature of these bindings, the top edges are gilt, rather than stained, as was done with the "normal" cloth bindings -- [real gold, by the way, used only until 1917, according to the website]. There is no date on the title page or its verso and no indication of later printings. The verso of the half title states that there were only twelve "headings" or divisions for the Everyman's Library titles -- [a thirteenth heading: "reference" was added sometime in 1907, but subsequent to the printing of this copy]. This title by John Ruskin is part of a small group published early in the Everyman's series. This group of Ruskin titles occupied volumes 207-219 [Elements of Drawing (No. 217) Modern Painters (5 vols, Nos. 208-212) Pre-Raphaelitism (No. 218) Sesame and Lilies (No. 219) Seven Lamps of Architecture (No. 207) Stones of Venice (3 vols, Nos. 213-215) Unto this Last (No. 216)]. And while these volumes were all part of the formal "heading" Essays and Belles Lettres, collectors of the series will be delighted to know that these Ruskin volumes (only) had a substitute text for the quotation which faces the decorative title page -- [a quote from John Ruskin himself: "Art has many uses and many pleasantnesses." (from 'Modern Painters') The rest of the titles in the "Belles Lettres" heading use a quotation from Francis Bacon. To quote from the essential website mentioned above about the dust jackets for these early titles: "In the early days of Everyman's Library, the dust jackets were drab and unattractive, obviously intended only to protect the binding prior to sale, after which it was expected that the purchaser would discard it in order to display the ornate gilt spine. Dents used these jackets to advertise not only other Everyman volumes, but also other Dent series. All things considered, it is a wonder that any of these jackets have survived. They are scarce, but can still be found. ... The same jackets were used, with 'Leather' instead of 'Cloth' printed on the spine, for the Style 1 leatherette volumes, but these are very rare..." "The earliest jackets were printed in red, with (a long printed statement) "The Aim and Scope of the Series" beneath the title. Beginning in 1911, black ink was used instead, which certainly increased legibility. The present dust jacket is entirely printed in red. It is also a specimen of an even rarer sub-species -- the American issue from E. P. Dutton and Co. Again, to quote from the collecting website: " From 1908-15, Dutton had separately printed jackets, identified by their name alone at the foot of the spine, and by the lack of the British currency markings. After 1915, when Dents also stopped printing the price, the separate Dutton jackets apparently stopped being printed." Details of condition of this copy: The binding is fresh, with tight hinges and clean throughout. The only mark of any sort is a faint pencil signature of an early owner at the top edge of the paste-down endpaper (which would erase without a trace should the buyer wish). There is just faint traces of rubbing at the spine ends and corners. The dust jacket has some shallow chipping around all edges, there is loss of a small triangular chip at the bottom, and a smaller bit at the top of the spine, with a closed tear along the top-most two inches of the front gutter hinge, and some wear, with small points of loss, along the hinges to the front and rear flaps. There is a noticeable chip missing at the lower corner of the front panel. Despite these details, collectors of such things will know that this is a spectacularly wonderful survival. That any owner kept this dust jacket for 106 years is surprizing; the book looks better without it. And those who have seen many examples of these early "Leatherette" Everyman's volumes know that it is hard enough to find intact and pleasant copies in this binding -- the typical examples have shattered into pieces long ago. The fragility of the first group of titles bound like this one must have been noticed as a problem early on, as the design and construction of the leather volumes did change about 1920-21, according to everymanslibrarycollecting. (Those sturdier volumes issued after the Great War have a "celtic" knot in the design of both the simplfied bindings and dust jackets). . (Inventory #: 39511)
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