First edition. Presentation copy from C.R. Ashbee, with his signature and inscription to the front endpaper. In an outstanding Guild of Handicraft Arts and Crafts movement binding. Full tan sheep with extensive tooled decoration to the upper board displaying the favoured emblems of the Guild including the 'Craft of the Guild' galleon under sail beneath a rising sun and a border of stylised pink carnations (with traces of colour remaining). The sun, the fruits within the foliage beneath the galleon, and the titles in two-toned gilt. Red onlays in the shape of shields at the foot with the names of different crafts lettered in white. The spine with five raised bands, titles hand-painted in red, and with a painted carnation to the bottom compartment. Top edge gilt, the others untrimmed. Blue card endpapers. Original card upper cover bound in at the front. Half title, title page, dedication, and contents printed in black and red. Illustrated with a black and white frontispiece and profusely throughout with black and white vignettes and decorations by C.R. Ashbee, J. Eadie Reid, T. Stirling Lee, E.P. Warren, and others. A fine copy, the binding square and tight with only minor rubbing to the extremities. The contents with a little minor spotting to the endpapers are otherwise clean and bright throughout. Superb.

A beautiful and important binding executed at the Guild of Handicraft/Essex House Press after a design by C.R. Ashbee. Inscribed by Ashbee in black ink to the front endpaper: "For a 'something' written / in at Mr ****** 's / desire / C. R. Ashbee / July '93", followed by an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's poem 'The Conundrum of the Workshops': "They builded a tower to shiver / the sky & wrench the stars apart - / Till the Devil grunted behind the / bricks: 'It's striking, but is it Art?' / The stone was dropped at the / quarry-side & the idle derrick swung, / While each man talked of the / aims of Art, & each in an / alien tongue". Established in London in 1888 by the designer, architect, and social reformer C.R. Ashbee (1863-1942), the Guild and School of Handicraft became one of the foremost workshops of the Arts and Crafts movement. Modelled on the medieval guilds, it took the form of a craft co-operative, intending to give working people satisfaction in their craftsmanship, to produce beautiful, functional hand-crafted goods, and to serve as a centre for educating apprentices in traditional artistic crafts, increasingly under threat from a machine-driven industrial consumer capitalism. Working on the principles of John Ruskin and William Morris, many members of the Guild were active socialists, and in 1902 the Guild moved to Chipping Camden, in the Cotswolds, to establish a co-operative community of artists and craftspeople. In the present work, the activities of the Guild in its earlier period are recorded, in addition to essays by Ashbee, George Frederick Watts, William Holman Hunt, Lawrence Alma Tadema, and Henry Holiday, amongst others. A listing of the Guild's upcoming courses reveals the range of leading figures involved in its activities, with classes taught by individuals including William Morris, Walter Crane, and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson. It is unknown as to who precisely at the Guild of Handicraft/the Essex House Press created the present binding, however, similar examples of decorative leatherwork designed by Ashbee are held in the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Cheltenham Art Gallery's renowned Arts and Crafts collection, and it was doubtless executed to his design. An exceptional example of a Guild binding.

Stock code: 18616


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