Yesterdays with Authors by James T. Fields
Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, London in 1872
First Edition, First Printing
Unique “Cosway Style Binding” by Riviére & Son
Provenance: Phoebe A. D. Boyle
Binding Details: Stunning “Cosway Style” binding by Riviére & Son bound in full crushed dark red morocco leather that features six fine hand-painted portrait miniatures on ivory almost certainly by Miss C.B. Currie. The cover treatments consist of gold gilt double-fillet borders enclosing gilt-tooled arabesque sprays of tendrils, flowers, and leaves. The front cover with a central inset oval miniature portrait of Charles Dickens and cornerpiece roundel portraits of Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wordsworth, Mary Russell Mitford, and Alexander Pope while the rear cover contains a central inset oval miniature portrait of William Makepeace Thackeray. Each of the portraits is framed by a dense semé of tiny gilt dots. The spine treatment consists of five raised bands with elaborate gold gilt decorations and titling. There are gilt ruled dentelles with floral stops, green floral patterned silk endpapers, and all page ends are gold gilted. The book is housed in a custom made floral patterned silk clamshell box that features a leather spine label with gold gilt titling. The Riviére & Son binder’s stamp appears in gold gilt on the bottom of the front inside cover.
Provenance: During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Phoebe A. D. Boyle amassed one of the twentieth century's great collections of decorative bindings. The contents of her collection were sold at auction by Anderson Galleries on 19 November 1923. Included in her collection were 45 Sangorski & Sutcliffe jeweled bindings, 31 illuminated manuscripts done by Alberto Sangorski, Francis’s brother, as well as numerous Cosway and other decorative bindings. Stephen Ratcliffe, in a 2014 article for Fine Books Magazine wrote, ““It was by far the greatest array of these masterpieces ever put together and can never be replicated”. “Yesterday with Authors” was lot 108 at this auction and included with book are the lot information as well as the bookplate of Phoebe A. D. Boyle.
About Cosway Bindings
Cosway bindings (named for renowned 19th-century English miniaturist Richard Cosway) were first commissioned in the early 1900s by J.H. Stonehouse, managing director of London booksellers Sotheran & Company, from the famous Rivière bindery, who employed Miss C.B. Currie to faithfully imitate Cosway's detailed watercolor style of portraiture. These delicate miniature paintings, often on ivory, were set into the covers or doublures of richly-tooled bindings and protected by a thin pane of glass. Cosway bindings executed by other than the original collaborators (Stonehouse, Sotheran, Rivière, and Currie) are designated as "Cosway-style" bindings.
Book Details: This is the first edition, first printing of James Field’s most famous work, “Yesterday with Authors”, published by Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, London in 1872. From The Library of the World’s Best Literature, “With the exception of Miss Mitford’s letters and some paragraphs of other matters, the contents of this book first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, during the year 1871, in a series of papers called ‘Our Whispering Gallery.’ The ‘Yesterdays’ are spent with Pope, Thackeray, Hawthorne, Dickens, Wordsworth, and Miss Mitford. With all but the first of these Mr. Fields had a personal acquaintance; with Hawthorne, Thackeray, and Dickens, a warm friendship which lasted until their deaths. The relation between publisher and author is of a delicate nature, having in it elements of mutual interest and enforced intimacy; when to this is added the tie of kindred minds and personal predilection, the record of it is noteworthy. The title is particularly applicable to the subject-matter. The remembrance of the day before is so potent in the present; yesterday and to-day are so allied in sentiment, that in reading these charming recollections, conversations, letters, anecdotes of work and play, one feels that the veil has been withdrawn, and those to whom we owe so much entertainment and instruction are still with us, not merely portraits in a picture gallery revivified by the touch of the artist. The author’s recollections of Dickens are exceptionally interesting. To him is accorded a major portion of the book, as in life was accorded a greater share of time and affection.”
The book measures 7.5 x 5.25” with 352 pages as well as a table of contents.
Condition Report: The binding and clamshell box are in FINE condition with no issues. Internally, the book is very clean. Overall, this is a spectacular “Cosway Style” binding from one of the twentieth century's great collections of decorative bindings that houses the first edition of James Fields’s most famous work.
Photographs of the binding and clamshell box appear in the photo section of the listing.