Title: The seasons : by James Thomson ; with his ...
Publisher: London : Printed [by T. Chapman] for A. Hamilton, Grays Inn Gate-Holborn.
Publication Date: 1793
Book Condition: Very Good, xxiv, 221, , 224-227,  pages, engraved portrait frontispiece, title page engraved with vignette. 4 engraved plates & 8 engraved vignette head and tailpiece illustrations. Marbled endpapers. Inner gilt dentelles. The 11 unnumbered leaves contain the notes. Printer's name from colophon. Plates bear imprint of A.Hamilton (some age-toning throughout & last 10 leaves show more browning & historic signs of slight damp). 16.5 x 25 cm. Contemporary full tree calf Edwards of Halifax Etruscan binding or contemporary imitator from either Halifax or London. Spine in copmpartments of classical urns & various starburst motifs all with floral gilt hand-tooled cornerpieces & scrolling horizontal gilt borders; with burgundy gilt lettered label (head, tail and hinges rather worn & possible signs of historic repair along hinges). Boards with engraved classical urns in lozenge scalloped borders & fan cornerpieces, & intricate additional scrolling border- engravings transferred using chemicals (the detail appearing very crisp due to the skill of the practitioner). Parts of the border were probably touched up by the binder after the transfer. Gilt single fillet, floral cornerpiece and additional scrolling gilt borders (corners bumped and worn, & some small portion of damage to the lower rear board and near the hinges). Though in an unsigned binding, this work was possibly produced by James Edwards of Halifax during a busy 10-year stint from 1789 as binder, bookseller and publisher (Edwards bindery was most productive in the 1780s and 1790s). Although books were not always bound as soon as they were published, the imprint often gives an indication of the date of the binding. The demand for speciality bindings decreased after the closure of the London bookshops (both shops had closed by 1799). Three binding styles are associated with the Edwards family, painted vellum bindings, Etruscan calf bindings, & books with painted fore-edges. Edwards used calf extensively, and produced different decorative styles from relatively plain gold-tooled bindings to designs which incorporated pictures on the covers and elaborate effects caused by the addition of acid (e.g. tree calf) & colour. The best known were the Etruscan bindings, a style featuring Greek vases or other classical ornaments in black on brown calf- the process on Edwards books involved the decoration of calf bindings by means of acid staining with classical ornament, e.g. Greek vases, and a border round a plain tree calf panel; some simple gold tooling was sometimes combined with the staining. The central panel was sprinkled with ink, a stencil was used to form a design of an urn in the middle. The term 'Etruscan' is a misnomer, since the vases on which the designs were based were from Greece. The Edwards Etruscan style was a panel design. An acid technique was also used to make the border, the corners filled with different motifs, for example a fan. Binders had a tendency to keep their processes secret, but used acid, pigment or ink with either tools or stencils. The leather on which the designs appear often shows signs of deterioration, due to the presence of acid in some form. Traditional gold-tooling was also used, in particular with scrolling patterns. The four corner fan shapes lend an interesting three dimensional effect. The toning shades of brown and terracotta around the inner panel have a tendency to fade, and are quite difficult to detect now. Calf, like other immature skins, is not very durable, and the acid treatment further weakens it; so Etruscan bindings do not keep their pristine beauty. Dorothy Wordsworth wrote (September 1795) "We spent a forenoon at Edwards when the Empsons were with us and were highly delighted. Mr Rawson bought me Mrs Barbauld's edition of the Pleasures of Imagination & the Pleasures of Memory both very elegantly bound" -no trip to Halifax by the gentry was complete without a souvenir from the Edwards establishment!. Seller Inventory # 5112