London: Edward Moxon, 1854. 8vo (202 x 134 mm). Frontispiece and 120 illustrations by George Scharf. Very fine binding and triple fore-edge painting by Fazakerley of Liverpool: full brown crushed levant morocco, the front cover with central oval cream calf panel inset, leather relief carving of Hyperion (reproducing the illustration on page 243), onlays of red and crimson ribbons surrounding the panel, spine in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt-lettered in one, a repeated flower in the remaining; elaborately gilt and gauffered edges Incorporating strapwork and stippling, the fore-edges with THREE VISIBLE FORE-EDGE VIGNETTE PAINTINGS depicting classical and pastoral scenes, turn-ins gilt ruled, brown watered silk linings, stamp signed by Fazakerley on the front turn in. In a quarter morocco folding case. Covers with some slight discoloration of the morocco (see note below), 3/4-inch chip from thin onlayed border on front cover, extremities just touched; internally fine save a few leaves with soft creases at the corners. Beautifully executed and presented fore-edges. Item #408478
The Fazakerley firm of Liverpool, founded by Thomas Fazakerley in 1835 and continued after his retirement by his son John from 1877, is renowned for its fore-edges paintings made on the flat or closed surface, especially these with a triptych. The cuir-ciséle (or "incised leather") panel is somewhat unusual for Fazakerley, whose bindings more typically employ onlays and gilt decoration on the flat surface of the levant. According to Bernard Middleton, Fazakerley's levant-covering was done with glue, allowing more control over the warping of the covers and for the finisher to begin work sooner. The slight irregularity of the dye on the covers may be a result of this practice of gluing, as it appears to be related structurally to the leather, and not caused by external environmental forces. The design of this binding shows the influence of art nouveau, which is thought to begin around 1890 and extended through the turn-of-the-century, providing a reasonable date of execution. See Bernard Middleton, A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique, p. 151; Jeff Weber, Annotated Dictionary of Fore-edge Painting Artists & Binders, pp.40-146.