|The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
|became lost to English gilders. At the beginning of the second half of the eighteenth century, the
art of design had reached its lowest condition; and the deterioration of forwarding was no less
complete. A volume bearing the arms and initials of George, Prince of Wales, afterwards George
III., Der gantze Psalter, London, 175 I, bound by Andreas Linde, bookbinder to the Prince,
exhibits the coarse execution, and the crude ornamentation, unintentionally grotesque, which
preceded the studied art of Roger Payne [218. d. 3.].
Much admirable work, however, both in workmanship and design, was executed for the
stationers, and private persons, by binders, whose names are now lost, at the end of the
seventeenth, and the beginning of the eighteenth, centuries. During the former period, the fan
style, which had its origin in Italy, was, equally with the cottage style, much used by English
binders. In both these styles, a great number of small tools, which were often of inferior design,
and which introduced into the composition an excessive number of elements, were combined
with such skill, that the total effect was often very felicitous. Many pleasing imitations of Le
Gascon's manner, and many inlaid bindings, were, also, produced about this time, examples of
which may be found figured in the Catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club [ego Case N, 38, 8,
and 90.]: but far more admirable, and ~ore native to English art, was a style of decoration, in
vogue at the beginning of the eighteenth century; of which a copy of a theological work,
preserved in the British Museum, A Paraphrase and Annota#ons upon all St. Paul's Epistles.
Done by several Eminent mm at Oxford, corrected and z"1nprov'd by the late Right Revermd and
learned Bishop Fell, London, 1702, is an admirable instance [C. 47. e.]. It is covered in red
morocco, inlaid with a black panel of the same leather; and elaborately tooled in gold, with
branches of vine, and tulips, with other flowers and devices. In the design of this binding, which
is admirably managed, and singularly pleasing in effect, English art, untouched by any foreign
influence, is seen to its best advantage: how admirable, and how various in design, were the
English bindings of this time, may be seen from the illustrations to the Catalogue of the
Burlington Fine Arts Club.
During the first quarter of the eighteenth century were executed the bindings of the Elegies and
Congratulatory Poems, which Elkanah Settle, the City Poet, and the butt of Dryden's wit, used to
present to the numerous patrons of his muse. They are very coarsely, though somewhat
effectively, executed; and from the similarity of the tools, which occur upon the various
examples, they appear to have been the work of the same binder. One of several examples,
preserved in the British Museum, A Funeral Poem to the Memory of the Right Honourable John,
Earl of Dundonald, London, 1720 [11631. h. 20.], bears the following note in pencil upon the
fly-leaf; 'Anne Cochrane my book sent me from London by Mr. E. Settle of the 16 of Novbr 1720.
But to pass to more accomplished work; much of the fine binding, executed about this time, was
done by Eliot and Chapman, who bound the celebrated library of Robert Harley, the first Earl of
Oxford, at a cost, it is said, of 18,0001.
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