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The Messiah by George Frederic Handel, c1890, Hand Painted Vellum Binding



The Messiah by George Frederic Handel

Published by Novello and Co, Ltd., London, circa1890

Unique Hand Painted Full Vellum Binding

Near FINE Condition

Full Title:  The Messiah: A Sacred Oratorio in Vocal Score Composed in the Year 1741 by G. F. Handel. Edited, and the Pianoforte Accompaniment Arranged by Vincent Novello

Binding Details:  A beautiful hand painted vellum binding over paste-board. The front cover is painted in black, blue, red, green, white and gold with a border of foliage on a frame with angels playing instruments and reading in the corners and the title written at the head and foot, enclosing a portrait of the Messiah surrounded by angels, on a grid background. Smooth spine painted with angels' heads and a sacred monogram, plain endleaves, gilt edges. The book is housed in a new green cloth drop-over box.  A stunning unique binding.

Book Details:  The title states this to be "Novello's Original Octavo Edition" and it is priced at two shillings, or 2s 6d in paper boards and 4s in cloth, gilt. This copy has been specially bound in vellum, probably by one of the trade binders, such as Morrell or Zaehnsdorf, and painted, probably by a lady. Marianne Tidcombe discusses such painted vellum bindings in Women Bookbinders 1880-1920, pp.83-85. They were particularly popular in the period 1888 to 1898 and many came from the Royal School of Art Needlework (see for example Tidcombe's colour plates 2, 7, 8 and 9). Others were produced by the members of the Working Ladies' Guild, the Gentlewoman's Guild of Handicrafts, and by Agnes Lynch. Certain male artists, usually from the William Morris circle, also had a go.

Tidcombe refers to Aymer Vallance and an example by Edward Burne-Jones was sold at Sotheby's on 7/12/2006 as lot 215. They could be quite striking but the paint has a tendency to flake off, and in 1898 Chivers of Bath began exhibiting his "Vellucent" bindings on which the paintings were protected by a skin of transparent vellum.

The book measures 10.25” x 6.5”, 182 pages

Condition Report:  The binding is in Near Fine condition with a little rubbing with some flaking of the paint on the spine. The hinges work well. Internally the book is very clean with no foxing except for some light sporadic foxing on the title page. The cloth drop box is in FINE condition. Overall, this is beautiful hand painted vellum binding that is in exceptional condition.

Photographs of the book and drop cloth box appear in the photo section of the listing.