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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Unique Binding by John Jameson



The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

Illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker

Published by The Heritage Press, New York in 1964

Unique Full Vellum Binding by John Jameson

FINE Condition

Full Title:  The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character

Binding Details:  Unique full leather binding by John Jameson made of Irish vellum with a black wrapped calfskin onlay recessed into a channel molded into the vellum covers.  There is gilt titling to the spine, hand-made endpapers and pastedowns, red single core head and tail bands,  and black colored page ends. The book is housed in a buckram solander case with the spine having titling in gold gilt on black leather.

In his signed artist statement for the binding that accompanies the book, John Jameson wrote, “The use of black signified Henchard’s black moods and the red headbands his flashed of temper. The black wrapped only which has five coins tolled on it in 22ct gold on the front board, in reference to his having sold his wife, runs around the spine and finishes on the back board. Here another thin tan calfskin onlay is blind tooled with a suggestion of a birdcage recalling Elizabeth Jane’s poignant discovery of the dead caged goldfinch and the realization that it was to have been Henchard’s wedding gift. The endpapers are decorated to appear like a field of wheat with the continuation of the black line of Henchard’s moods running through.”

John Jameson was introduced to a trade bindery early in his career and went on to train in bookbinding at Brunel College in Bristol, the London College of Printing, and Guildford College. Establishing Cotswold Bookbinders over 20 years ago, John has specialized in the restoration and conservation of fine leather bindings with a focus on historic traditional binding styles and techniques. Over the years, he has built a loyal following of clients among private collectors, private libraries, the antiquarian booktrade, and a number of colleges and institutions.

 Book Details:  Originally published in 1886, this is the Heritage Press edition published in 1964 that features 16 full-page wood engravings and a number of smaller engravings by Agnes Miller Parker and contains an introduction by Frank Swinnerton. Bruce Prine of Libri Vox in his review wrote the following summary, “Irritated and drunken, an itinerant farm-worker sells his wife and child to a stranger. Thus begins The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in rural and small-town England in the mid-1800s. In the original subtitle, Hardy called this the story of "a man of character," and the central character, Michael Henchard, is one of English fiction's greatest creations. Henchard is deeply developed as a realistic character, but also larger-than-life in the manner of a Greek or Shakespearean tragic hero — huge in his determination and huge in his failings. The novel deals with the struggles between individual will, the hold of the past, and the relentless control of circumstances in a changing society.”

 The book measures approximately 8.5” x 5.75” and contains 318 pages. The solander box measures 10.25” x 7” x 2.25”.

Condition Report:  The binding is in FINE condition. Internally, the book is exceptionally clean with no signs of previous ownership. The solander box is in FINE condition. Overall, this is a beautiful unique binding by John Jameson that houses a wonderful illustrated edition of one Thomas Hardy’s most popular novels.

Photographs of the binding, solander box, endpaper treatment, and signed artist statement appear in the photo section of the listing.