The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, 2 Volumes
First Edition, First Printing
Printed by B. Collins for F. Newbery, Salisbury in 1766
Unique Full Leather Bindings by Riviere & Son, London
Provenance: Terry-Mills-Benz Copy of Goldsmith's Masterpiece
Custom Clamshell Box and Chemise by Jamie Kamph of The Stonehouse Bindery
Full Title: The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale Supposed to be Written by Himself
Binding Details: Beautiful signed bindings by Riviere & Son of full scarlet crushed morocco leather that features an elaborate gold gilt design on the covers with a French fillet frame and a spine treatment of raised bands with striking gilt compartments and titling. There are marbled endpapers, all page ends are gold gilted, and the inner dentilles are elaborately decorated in gold gilt. The Riviere & Son binders stamp appears in gold gilt on the bottom of the front inside over of both volumes. The books are housed in a custom made leather chemise and upholstery clamshell box with a leather spine label that was made by Jamie Kamph at The Stonehouse Bindery.
Book Details: Written in 1761-62 but not published until four years later, this is the first edition, first printing of Oliver Goldsmith’s 2 volume masterpiece "The Vicar of Wakefield" printed by B. Collins for F. Newbery, Salisbury in 1766 with the first edition point of the terminal blank in volume 1. First Edition, Variant B references Temple Scott, pp. 173-75; Rothschild 1028; Tinker 1110.
The Vicar of Wakefield was said to have been rescued from some of Goldsmith's unpublished manuscripts by Dr. Johnson, who thus saved the penniless author from imprisonment by selling it to a publisher for £60. Considered the masterpiece of the middle-class domestic novel, the "Vicar" has never gone out of style because its whimsically delineated characters have a delightful simplicity that somehow insulates them against ultimate misfortune, and the innocent and virtuous are rewarded, as they should be, in the end. This copy has a distinguished provenance, having been owned, in succession, by Roderick Terry (1849-1933), Edgar Mills, and Doris L. Benz (1907-84), all of whom collected beautiful and substantial items chosen with considered discrimination. Terry accumulated items in various fields, but his library was especially strong in English literature: he owned the four folios, and he had strong holdings in Byron, Lamb, Spenser, and Milton. He also collected Americana, assembling a complete set of autographs of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in addition to many literary items. Dickinson characterizes him as "a connoisseur in the grand old tradition of the 19th century. His library reflected his eclectic tastes and [his] cultivated good judgment." Benz collected fine bindings, the best of the private presses, major English authors, and manuscripts. Dickinson says that because she had acquired things very privately, the book world was shocked at the richness of her collection when it came on the market in 1984. Probably the main reason this volume had such celebrated owners is the beauty of its bindings. Riviere is considered one of the foremost names in English binding partly because the firm did consistently fine work and partly because it was so long in business. Robert Riviere began as a bookseller and binder in Bath in 1829, then set up shop as a binder in London in 1840; in 1881, he took his grandson Percival Calkin into partnership, at which time the firm became known as Riviere & Son, and the bindery continued to do business until 1939. In the early part of the 20th century, an intense rivalry between Riviere and Sangorski & Sutcliffe developed, and collectors have reaped immense dividends ever since in the form of more and more elaborate work that was not infrequently of breathtaking beauty.
The books measure approximately 6.75” x 4.5”. The front pastedown of volume I contains the leather book labels of Roderick Terry, [Edgar] Mills, and Doris Louise Benz.
Condition Report: The bindings and solander box are in FINE condition. Internally, the text is nearly pristine with the lower corner of the terminal blank in the first volume skillfully renewed, artful repair and faint glue stains at inner margin of B3 in second volume, and other isolated trivial defects. Overall, this is a beautiful Riviere & Son binding that houses the true first edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s classic novel.
Photographs of the binding, clamshell box and chemise, and theleather book labels of Terry, Mills, and Benz appear in the photo section of the listing.