FINE ETON BINDING
Organum, hoc est, libri omnes ad logicam pertinentes,
Frankfurt, apud heredes Andreae VVecheli, Claudium Marnium, & Iohan. Aubrium, 1597
Large 8vo. pp. 209-895, (i) only. O-KKk8. Greek and Roman letter in double column, side notes and glosses in tiny Roman. Very numerous woodcut diagrams in text, small floriated woodcut initials, bookplate of Robert S Pirie on pastedown. Light age yellowing. A fine copy, with good margins, (many deckle edges to lower margin), in contemporary thick dark calf by Williamson, binder of Eton College, covers double blind and single gilt ruled to a panel design, stopped at the corners by a gilt floral tools, large block-stamped gilt corner-pieces to corners of inner panel, tree device, with ‘noli altum sapere’ panel, gilt stamped to centres, “Charls: Somersett” gilt stamped within double gilt ruled box frame in upper compartment, his motto “Mutare: Vel: Timere. Sperno”, within similar box frame, on lower cover, edges blind ruled, spine double gilt ruled in compartments, with star fleuron gilt at centres, title gilt lettered direct above, remains of blue silk ties, head and tail of spine very expertly restored, joints a little rubbed.
A fine and exceptionally rare example of a beautiful English binding by Vincent Williamson, binder of Eton College, bound for Charles Somerset. Williamson sometimes, as here, used a distinctive gilt tooled ‘Noli altum sapere’ based on the Estienne device, but adopted by the booksellers Bonham and John Norton and in some cases used by the binder of their books. According to Nixon, Williamson appears to be the first English binder to tool the title of a book on the spine (as here). He is probably the Vincent Williamson apprenticed to George Singleton, stationer, on March 7, 1603. Parish records of St. Giles Cripplegate show that he married Elizabeth Dawson in December 1584. He is referred to in the records of Eton College until 1621. “London was not the only town where gold-tooled bookbindings were made in the first half of the seventeenth century. Thanks to Sir Robert Birley’s researches, we know of bookbindings being produced at Eton, and we know the name of the binder, one Williamson. We even know that he was the first – but by no means the last – recorded English bookbinder who found at one stage of his career that alcohol improved his finishing, only to find that the improvement lasted but a short time… Nevertheless he continued to work until c, 1621, although already in 1608 Sir Dudley Carleton wrote from Eton to a friend in London: ..”We have here a goode workman, but he hath commonly his hands full of worke, and his head full of drinck, yet I had as leve venture my worke with this good fellow that is sometime sober, as with them that are always mad” He also bound several books for Sir Charles Somerset, when the later left Eton in 1604, which are very nearly the first English bindings to be lettered on the spine”. Nixon and Foot The History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, p. 52. See plate 42 for an example of a Williamson binding made for Charles Somerset and BL Shelfmark c128k3 for another, without the Noli Altum Sapere device.
BM STC Ger. C17th p. 41.