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The Story of Nell Gwyn, Extra Illustrated Edition, Bayntun-Riviere “Cosway Style Binding”



The Story of Nell Gwyn by Peter Cunningham

Special Extra Illustrated Edition

Privately Published for the Navarre Society Ltd., London in 1927

Signed Bayntun-Riviere “Cosway Style Binding”

Custom Clamshell Box by Jamie Kamph, Stonehouse Bindery

Exceptional Condition

Full Title:  The Story of Nell Gwyn and the Sayings of Charles the Second, King of England

Binding Details:  Stunning signed Bayntun-Riviere “Cosway Style” binding in full dark plum morocco leather that features a hand painted miniature on ivory under glass inlaid to the front cover depicting a portrait of Nell Gwyn. The spine treatment consists of raised bands with elaborate gilt decorations and titling. In addition to the miniature inlaid into the front cover, the boards are beautifully tooled with stylized Art Nouveau gold gilted flower designes. There are gold gilt tooled inner dentelles, marbled endpapers, and all page edges are gold gilted. Banytun/Riviere has affixed their binders stamp in gilt on the bottom inside cover. The book is housed in a custom made clamshell box by Jamie Kamph of the Stonehouse Bindery.

About Cosway Bindings

Cosway bindings (named for renowned 19th-century English miniaturist Richard Cosway) were first commissioned in the early 1900s by J.H. Stonehouse, managing director of London booksellers Sotheran & Company, from the famous Rivière bindery, who employed Miss C.B. Currie to faithfully imitate Cosway's detailed watercolor style of portraiture. These delicate miniature paintings, often on ivory, were set into the covers or doublures of richly-tooled bindings and protected by a thin pane of glass. Cosway bindings executed by other than the original collaborators (Stonehouse, Sotheran, Rivière, and Currie) are designated as "Cosway-style" bindings.

Book Details:  Originally published in"The Gentleman's Magazine" of 1851 and in book form  by Bradbury & Evans in 1852, the is the 1927 extra illustrated edition of "The Story of Nell Gwyn and the Sayings of Charles the Second, King of England” privately published for the Navarre Society Ltd., London in 1927. Zoe Craig in his article entitled, “London’s Own Cinderella” wrote, “Eleanor 'Nell' Gwynn (or Gwyn or Gwynne) was a London heroine with a rags-to-riches story to rival both Cinderella and Eliza Doolittle. The embodiment of the bawdy Restoration era, the orange seller-turned-actress enjoyed a position as a favourite mistress to the king for nearly 20 years and bore him two sons. King Charles's deathbed request to his younger brother and heir, James II was 'Let not poor Nelly starve' which he honored by paying off her debts and providing her with a £1,500-a-year pension (about £150,000 in today's money). Her short but significant life has inspired several films, plays and novels.”

The volume measures approximately 9” x 5.75” and contains 192 text pages as well asan introduction by John Drinkwater and a list of illustrations.  This is the extra illustrated edition that in addition to the 24 original plates in the regular edition, contains 15 earlier engravings of which 4 are hand colored.

Condition Report:  The binding and clamshell box are in FINE condition. Internally, the book is very clean. There are no bookplates or sign of previous ownership. Overall, this is a beautiful Banytun-Riviere “Cosway Style” binding that houses a wonderful biography of one of the most interesting personalities of the seventeenth century.

Photographs of the binding and clamshell box appear in the photo section of the listing.