Including Far from the Madding Crowd; The Mayor of Casterbridge; Jude the Obscure; Tess of the D'Urbervilles; The Trumpet-Major; Two on a Tower; The Well-Beloved.London: Macmillan and Co., 1920 Stock Code: 144165
The Mellstock edition, one of 500 sets signed by the author on the limitation page of volume I. The Mellstock is one of the most attractive collected editions of Hardy, printed in a clear and legible type, this copy in an attractive binding in lovely condition.
At Hardy's suggestion the edition was named after his fictional "Mellstock", a combination of the Dorset hamlet Stinsford, where his heart is now buried, with the Higher and Lower Bockhamptons. The publication was originally projected in July 1914 but was halted by the outbreak of the First World War. The text is largely a resetting of the Wessex edition with the exception of A Pair of Blue Eyes, for which Hardy sent the publishers five pages of corrections and additions on 18 June 1919 (Purdy, p. 288).
This set is beautifully bound by the bindery of Whitman Bennett in New York. Bennett (18831968) spent his youth as successful film producer and director for Famous-Lasky and Paramount Studios, working on some of the most notable films of the silent era. He retired from Hollywood at the age of 40 to found Bennett Book Studios in 1924, establishing a reputation for American and English literature and fine bindings. His accompanying bindery specialised in "enhancing books with lavish leather bindings and was almost as important to the firm's success as the rare book department" (Dickinson, p. 16).
37 volumes, octavo (226 x 150 mm). Finely bound by Whitman Bennett in dark blue crushed morocco, titles and decoration to spines in gilt in compartments, raised bands tooled in gilt, gilt roundel to each front cover comprising the author's monogram within scrolling stems of oak leaves and acorns (replicating that of the original cloth binding), twin rule to turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, others untrimmed.
With etched portrait frontispiece by William Strang in volume I.
Faint offsetting from turn-ins to endpapers, very occasional light scuffs to boards, gilt bright, contents clean and fresh, overall a fine copy.
Donald C. Dickinson, Dictionary of American Antiquarian Bookdealers (1998); Purdy, pp. 287-288.
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