Rip Van Winkle

WASHINGTON, Irving / RACKHAM, Arthur

VELLUCENT BINDING BY CEDRIC CHIVERS

RACKHAM, Arthur Rip Van Winkle

Heinemann, 1905.

First edition. 4to. Finely bound by Cedric Chivers, c.1905, stamp signed to rear turn in. Full green morocco, with five inlaid vellucent panels, containing miniature watercolours reproducing Rackham's imagery painted on vellum. The upper cover is further decorated with an Art Nouveau design in gilt and two circular green morocco onlays, accentuated by gilt punched dots. The smooth spine is decorated with Art Nouveau gilt decoration and circular amber morocco onlay. Single line gilt border on covers and a heart-shaped gilt design to the rear. Gilt ruled turn-ins and patterned endpapers. All edges gilt. Fifty-one colour plates by Rackham are mounted onto green art paper and protected by tissue guards, apart from the frontis they are all mounted together at the end of the text. One of the double page plates has a slight corner crease to the white border. A very good copy indeed of this extraordinary production, morocco binding with very slight rubs to the joints, slight fading to some panels and occasional foxing to the preliminary and terminal pages.

Rip van Winkle was Rackham's first major colour plate work and the first of the opulent Christmas Gift books. Its beauty and popularity began the "Golden Age of Book Illustration," in which publishers and illustrators competed to present the most beautiful volumes to the gift market.
Cedric Chivers introduced these "vellucent" style bindings in order to assist the production of beautiful hand painted watercolour bindings, which prior to this point had been subject to damage, smudging and wear.
The new process involved painting an image in ink and watercolour on paper and then a thin layer of stretched vellum was laid over the illustration and sealed, thus protecting the painting. Gilt decoration, lettering and borders were then embossed onto the covers.
Chivers described the process thus,
"...The designs were first painted or drawn in colours with as full a palette or as subdued a richness of colouring as the artist chose to employ. Various iridescent materials and precious metals, pared to the thinness of paper or even of gold leaf, according to the fancy of the designer, were often introduced to enhance the richness of the scheme; mother-o'-pearl, shell, beetles' wings, these and other beautiful materials were utilized in the carrying out of the designs with the greatest felicity of effect. The transparent vellum was then laid upon the surface of the painting and the two pressed together till they became indisseverable. Gold tooling was now superimposed upon the surface of the subcutaneous colouring, often with results surprising in their richness and beauty. Indeed, the vellum itself, though of perfect transparency, has, from its delicate warmth of hue, the quality of rendering luminous and reconciling colours otherwise difficult to combine harmoniously in juxtaposition, its appearance being that of a beautiful enamel-like glaze. The whole field of colour, of iridescence, is thus open to the artist who elects to decorate books bound in 'Vellucent.'" (Chivers books in Beautiful Bindings).
Most Vellucent bindings were designed by H. Granville Fell with the paintings done by one of a group of 5 women, Dorothy Carleton Smyth, Alice Shepherd, Miss J.D. Dunn, Muriel Taylor, and Agatha Gales. In many cases the name of the artist is not advertised.
Bindings were offered in very small numbers due to the workmanship involved and the high cost of the books.

Stock ID: 40114

£3,000.00

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