Hall, S.C. Midsummer Eve. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1848, 4to, inscribed ‘With Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’, signed ‘F. Sangorski & G. Sutcliffe’ and dated ‘Xmas 1911’ on a preliminary blank, frontispiece, pictorial title, plates, illustrations throughout, full crushed blue goatskin elaborately gilt, ruled in gilt with floral fans at each corner made up of leafy sprays, red morocco onlay hearts and roses, all edges gilt, some light spotting, ink ownership inscription
 Irving, Washington. The Sketch Book. Bell and Daldy, 1870, 4to, inscribed ‘With best wishes… from the Bindery’, signed ‘G. Sutcliffe’, and dated ‘Xmas 1913’ on a preliminary blank, half-title, portrait frontispiece, title page printed in black and red, additional engraved title, illustrations throughout, full green goatskin elaborately tooled in gilt with repeated holly and mistletoe sprays, all edges gilt with fore-edge painting of a rural scene, some light spotting to preliminaries
 Gaskell, Elizabeth. Cranford. Macmillan, 1891, 8vo, inscribed ‘With best wishes…from the Bindery’, signed ‘G. Sutcliffe’ and dated ‘Xmas. 1914’ on a preliminary blank, two additional calligraphic inscriptions, extra illustrated with an original pen and ink drawing by Hugh Thomson, signed and dated ‘1915’, half-title, frontispiece, and illustrations by Thomson, full dark purple goatskin, upper board with central raised green morocco onlay tooled with ‘FAM’ monogram, with a border of bands of nacre and purple stones, all edges gilt and guaffered, occasional spotting, ink ownership inscription
 Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. George Allen, 1894, 8vo, inscribed ‘With best wishes…from the Bindery’, signed ‘G. Sutcliffe’ and dated ‘Xmas, 1915’ on a preliminary blank, additional calligraphic inscription of a Christmas poem, half-title, frontispiece, pictorial title and illustrations by Hugh Thomson, full pictorial purple crushed goatskin with elaborate design of peacock in gilt and multi-coloured onlays, all edges gilt and gauffered
 Keats, John. The Poetical Works of John Keats. Edward Moxon, 1854, 4to, inscribed ‘With best wishes…from the Bindery’, signed ‘G. Sutcliffe’ and dated ‘December 1918’ on a preliminary blank, half-title, frontispiece, illustrations by George Scharf, full dark green crushed morocco, board with central ligature monogram ‘JK’ within a wreath, all edges gilt and gauffered, some light browning, ink ownership inscription
 Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Ballads and Narrative Poems. Kelmscott Press, 1893, 8vo, one of 316 copies, of which this is one of 310 on paper, inscribed ‘With good wishes… from the bindery’, signed by George Sutcliffe and dated ‘December, 1935’ on preliminary blank, half-title, wood-engraved title and opposite page within elaborate borders, initials designed by William Morris, printed in red and black throughout, full white pigskin ruled in gilt with gilt tooling, top edge gilt
 Morris, William. The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems. Kelmscott Press, 1892, 8vo, one of 310 copies, of which this is one of 300 on paper, inscribed ‘With best wishes… from the Bindery’, signed by George Sutcliffe and dated ‘December 1936’ on preliminary blank, half title, wood-engraved border and initials designed by William Morris, printed in red and black throughout, full alum-tawed pigskin bevelled in the centre of all three edges in the German style, ruled in gilt and blind, top edge trimmed, others uncut
 Milne, A.A. Now We Are Six. Methuen, 1927, 4to, FIRST EDITION, number 113 of 200 copies signed by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, inscribed ‘With best wishes… from the Bindery’, signed by George Sutcliffe and dated ‘December 1938’ on preliminary blank, half-title, illustrations by E.H. Shepard, full white goatskin with gilt tooled borders, spine in compartments decorated with gilt motifs of Pooh bear, animals and insects, top edge gilt
 Milne, A.A. The House at Pooh Corner. Methuen, 1928, 4to, FIRST EDITION, number 297 of 350 copies signed by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, inscribed ‘With best wishes … from the Bindery’, signed by George Sutcliffe and dated ‘MCMXXXIX’  on preliminary blank, half-title, illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, full mustard-yellow goatskin ruled in gilt, upper edges decorated with repeated Tigger motifs and lower edges with repeated Piglet motifs, top edge gilt, binding with some very minor spotting, some browning to edges of endpapers
 Milne, A.A. Winnie the Pooh. Methuen and Co., 1926, 4to in 8s, FIRST EDITION, number 26 of 350 copies signed by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, inscribed ‘With good wishes for Christmas…in 1941…from the Bindery’ and signed by George Sutcliffe on preliminary blank, half-title, illustrations by E.H. Shepard, folding map at end, full blue crushed goatskin ruled decoratively in gilt, with an oval design of animal motifs and characters from the story including Tigger, Pooh, Kanga, Eeyore and Piglet, quatrefoil gilt vignette of Christopher Robin and Pooh on the stairs at centre of upper board, top edge gilt, ink ownership inscription, spine slightly discoloured
Full list and cataloguing for each individual book available on request.
These spectacular Christmas Bindings unite two of the most important and recognisable names in the twentieth century book trade. These forty four books, each with their own exquisite binding, were gifted year by year by Sangorski & Sutcliffe to Florence Maggs, the wife of Ernest Maggs, who had taken over his father’s firm with his three brothers in 1894. Carefully conserved since then and now offered for sale as a complete collection, these books are not only testament of a lifelong friendship but provide a unique record of the development of London’s greatest bindery.
It was in 1901 that Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe, who had met five years earlier at a bookbinding evening course, decided to found their own small business in an attic in Bloomsbury. The start of a new century proved an auspicious time to begin trading: the first entry in their order book was from Charles Robert Ashbee, a central figure of the Arts and Crafts movement, and within a few short years, Sangsorski & Sutcliffe had established themselves as the city’s most desirable binders. Their reputation for the finest craftsmanship and most imaginative designs quickly spread, and soon the firm was supplying its fine bindings not just to the local London trade but to private collections as far as the west coast of America.
By 1911, Sangorski & Sutcliffe were operating from new premises on Southampton Row. The previous decade had seen them develop strong relationships with many of their customers, but none so close as that with rare booksellers, Maggs Bros. The four Maggs brothers – Benjamin, Henry, Charles and Ernest – were the proprietors of one of London’s most respected booksellers, counting the Royal family amongst their customers. As a mark of their importance to the bindery, Sangorski & Sutcliffe began binding a special Christmas book for the ladies of the Maggs family, a tradition which would continue for the next four decades and survive two World Wars and the great Depression.
As the Christmas of 1911 drew near, the binders began work on the first gift it would make for Florence Ada Maggs, Ernest’s wife, a copy of Midsummer Eve. Each design would include her name or monogram. Including beautifully illustrated editions of Pride and Prejudice and Cranford, first edition copies of the Winnie the Pooh stories, limited edition publications from William Morris’ Kelmscott Press and the Vale Press, the works selected encompass over a hundred years of publishing history.
Of course, only this first gift bears the signatures of both founding partners beneath the dedication. At the start of July 1912, six months after the first Christmas binding, Francis Sangorski was drowned swimming in the sea at Selsey. He was thirty-six years old. He was buried at Marlyebone Cemetery, East Finchley, with the Maggs family in attendance, and his tombstone bore the epitaph ‘Artist Craftsman’. Until 1943, the signature of George Sutcliffe appears on each Christmas book alone.
The influence of Sangorski & Sutcliffe on twentieth century bookbinding cannot be overstated. Working at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, their workshop elevated bookbinding from a humble craft to an artistic endeavour in its own right. They formed a company “dedicated to only the finest work and the highest standards”. Their bindings remain some of the most beautiful and coveted books in the world, found in the most preeminent collections and preserved as treasures in numerous institutions.
This collection, made for Britain’s oldest family of antiquarian booksellers, stands as testament to the development of the most important hand bindery of the era. A unique piece of the firm’s history, “by any standard, then or now, these extravagant, glittering examples of the book-binders craft were the products of a workshop at the very height of its creative powers.” (Rob Shepherd, The Cinderella of the Arts, 2007).
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