London: Trubner & Co., 1880. First edition. 8 1/4 by 5 1/4 inches; 209 by 136 mm. xiii, 110 pages. A fascinating, ironic presentation copy of the first edition, bound enthusiastically but not so adeptly in three tropical hardwoods by George A. Seipp, making him, in this case anyway, one of the author's "Enemies." Item #895
A preliminary page printed with the words "Presented to," "by" and "1880," with spaces for handwritten names and the month, is filled in as follows: "Presented to Theod. Goebel by his friend William Blades Oct 1880." Theodor Goebel, born in Germany in 1829, was a practical instructor and historian of printing, described by Bigmore and Wyman in their A Bibliography of Printing (1880) as "one of the most earnest and accomplished among German students of the history and antiquities of printing." His best known work is the 1883 book Friedrich Koenig und die Erfindung der Schnellpresse, Ein Biographisches Denkmal, which established Koenig, co-founder of press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer AG, as the inventor of the steam-powered printing press. According to pencil notes on a preliminary page, this copy of Enemies was bound by Seipp in 1956, with leather hinges connecting a zebrawood spine to boards that are nicely figured lacewood on their outsides and prima vera on the insides. Brown cloth labels lettered in gilt are glued to the spine, with a duplicate label laid inside the book. The entire first edition is present, including all seven plates and the original decorated wrappers. Now to the problems: Though the spine, boards and hinges are quite sound, the first five gatherings are hanging by a thread. In addition, cloth tape was used to strengthen some spots; the tape is much stiffer than the somewhat brittle paper, resulting in occasional long tears in the gutter, along the tape edges. The same tape was also used to repair some tears in the margins and to reinforce the edges of plate V and the reverse of plate VI, the folding plate of a bookworm, at its fold. Those two plates are also incorrectly located: V precedes page 79 instead of 57, and VI faces page 64 rather than 62. In his chapter on bookbinders, Blades wrote, "What a treat it is to handle a well-bound volume; the leaves lie open fully and freely as if tempting you to read on, and you handle them without fear of their parting from the back." Not in this case, making it an unforgettable example.