Copy of Tregaskis Exhibition binding.
[KELMSCOTT PRESS.] The Tale of King Florus and the Fair Jehane. [Translated from the French by William Morris]. Kelmscott Press., 1893.
16mo; choicely bound by E. Rau of St. Petersburg in full orange crushed morocco, lettered in gilt on spine, boards with a semi of stylized flowers within a single gilt and dog tooth panel, central initial of "W" on upper board and "M" on lower board, richly gilt inner dentelles over marbled endpapers; pp. [iv] + 96 + colophon; double-page woodcut border, text printed in black and red in the Chaucer type. A fine copy in slipcase.
350 copies were printed, with an additional 15 copies on vellum. Of the 360 copies 76 copies were purchased in sheets by J. and M.L. Tregaskis and sent to bookbinders throughout the world, the object being to mount an international exhibition of bookbinding. The 73 copies which were actually bound, and displayed at the exhibition in 1894, are now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester. The one example from Russia in the exhibition was bound by E. Rau of St Petersburg and this copy is similar in design to the copy submitted for the exhibition and now in the Rylands Collection. The bindings both have a pattern of flowers across the boards, although the tools used are of different sizes and frequency. The Tregaskis copy repeats the flower pattern on the spine but on this copy the gilt work on the spine is in panels. William Morris's initials are reversed on the two copies. The Tregaskis copy has "M" on the upper board and "W" on the lower; this copy has "W" on the upper board and "M" on the lower. As the Tregaskis copy was to be exhibited with the boards facing out the initials would therefore have read "W" "M".
This is possibly a trial copy that Rau chose not to send as his exhibition piece but it seems more likely that it was a second copy commissioned by a collector who saw the Tregaskis copy in the exhibition or the exhibition catalogue. This supposition is supported by the provenance of the book.
This copy has the bookplate of Frank Howell on the front paste-down and of American collector Charles Walker Andrews on the front free endpaper. Loosely inserted is a typed letter from J. & M.L. Tregaskis to Frank Howell advertising the upcoming catalogue of the bindings in the exhibition. Howell, we presume, liked Rau's binding and commissioned him to bind up another copy in similar style. As this second copy was not commissioned as an exhibition piece, Rau reversed the initials on the boards to a more logical "W" on the upper board and "M" on the lower.