Wednesday, November 20, 2013

121. A faded spine for sale

Bloomsbury in London has another auction next week, on 28 November. In it are some leftovers from the successfull Hodson sale. Last week unsold paper copies were offered again at lower estimates than before, now the same goes for two more important unsold books: a specially bound copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (Vale Press, 1897) and a vellum copy of Thomas Browne's Religio Medici (Vale Press 1902).

Binding in green morocco for Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (vellum copy)
The Sonnets from the Portuguese is a copy on paper, but it is bound in white pigskin after a design by Ricketts. There is a geometric panel on the covers, with small flowers and roundels tooled in blind and gilt. At least two copies on paper exist in a binding with this design. This copy differs from the other one in that it bears the initials HR of the publishers Hacon and Ricketts on the inside of the lower cover (lot 171, estimate £1000-£1500 [reduced by £500]).

The vellum Religio Medici is bound in green morocco with repeated LH monogram and bird tool on the covers. The description says it is a copy in 'brown' morocco, but only the spine and parts of the covers are browned; one can clearly see that it used to be a full green binding. The discolouration is probably why the book has not sold. The book is a large octavo - height is more than 30 centimetres - and the scale of the browning is too bad. 

Also, the decoration is not typical for Ricketts. From the letters that were auctioned last time, one may conclude that this design was prompted by the collector. It is much more Hodson's design than it is Ricketts's. A similarly designed copy of The Rubayat of Omar Khayyam, however, did find a buyer last time (for £2450), but that has always been a popular text.

The Browne is described as lot 172. The estimate is £1500-2000 - which is £1000 less than in the Hodson sale.

[Note, 18 December 2013: The Browning, again, remained unsold at auction; the Browne, however, was sold for £2200.]