[HUMPHREYS, Henry Noel]. ~ Parables of our Lord. London: Longman & Co., 1847.
8vo (160 × 110 mm), pp. , [ii] index and explanations, entirely printed in chromolithography with gold and silver on thick paper (except the index, which is letterpress on regular paper). Original papier mâché binding on black morocco (the spine embossed) over wooden boards, marbled endpapers. One or two leaves just beginning to separate at gutter, but all secure (and rarely found thus).
First edition, an excellent copy, of one of the earliest of Humphreys’ medievalist publications, entirely printed in colour in imitation of illuminated manuscripts and with the first of his papier mâché bindings. This innovative binding material was one of several pioneered by Humphreys to express his particular vision of early book bindings. Mass produced, they were immensely popular as gift books, though commentators such as Ruskin were critical — he called them ‘vain’, ‘useless’ and evidence of contemporary bad taste and moral decline. The binding designs were carved in a mould (of steel?) into which was poured a mixture of plaster on a papier-mache base. ‘They are part of the Victorian. dream of medievalism, to be placed reverently on a velvet cloth on the piano.’ (McClean)
The colophon reads: ‘In designing the ornaments to the sacred parables contained in this volume, the illuminator has sought to render them in each instance appropriate. The work of illumination was commenced on the first day of May the year of Our Lord MDCCCXLV and terminated on the tenth day of Febry. MDCCCXLVI. HNH.’ No printer’s name is given. McLean, Victorian Publishers’ Book-bindings in Paper p. 13, 51; McLean, Victorian Book Design and Colour Printing (2nd ed.) p. 99-100.