Fac-similes of Old Book Binding in the Collection of James Gibson Craig.

  • (Bookbinding)
  • Edinburgh: Privately Printed 1882




ONE OF 25 COPIES (this one noted ‘this one extra’), folio, ff. [30] + 26 chromolithograph plates (of which 3 are double-page and 2 folding). Original quarter dark olive-green roan, matching paper boards, spine divided by raised bands, long central compartment lettered vertically in gilt, endpapers matching the boards. A little light soiling internally. Rubbed, spine sunned, a few small scrapes. Bookplate of George Waterston Edinburgh to pastedown.


The printer's retained copy of this early and rare illustrated catalogue of selected bindings from the collection of James Thomson Gibson-Craig (1799-1886), Writer to the Signet and book collector. Gibson-Craig took to antiquarian matters early, joining the Bannatyne Club at age 24 and moving in circles with Walter Scott, Macauley, Cockburn, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, and others. After his death his library was auctioned in nearly ten thousand lots over 28 days.
Gibson-Craig's brief introduction indicates that he had from time to time had facsimiles of bindings produced, without a specific plan, but eventually decided to have 25 copies bound up for friends with descriptive letterpress. As a result copies vary somewhat in their contents - of the 17 surviving examples that we have traced, two are recorded have variant numbers of plates and descriptions all or partly in manuscript (V&A: 23 plates and MS captions; Morgan Library: 32 plates, 24 MS captions and 7 printed), and at least two others have an extra plate without accompanying letterpress (depicting a red board with a gilt strapwork design). Schmidt-Kunsemuller notes 27 plates but the Grolier and Columbia copies both, like this one, have 26.
The facsimiles are executed in bold colour photo-lithography, usually in two or three colours plus gold, though some are more or less elaborate. The printing was done by George Waterston & Sons, the long-established Edinburgh printer and stationer, and this copy is from their own collection.

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