London: Library of Imperial History, 1976. First edition. Hardcover. This pristine set of Churchill’s Collected Essays is among the best-preserved examples of the vellum bindings we have seen. This four-volume set is a compilation of most of Churchill's major forewords and periodical contributions, some of which can be otherwise found only in the original periodical publications. The essays are sorted by subject and each of the volumes has a theme - Churchill and War, Churchill and Politics, Churchill and People, and Churchill at Large.
In addition to being bibliographically important, The Collected Essays are aesthetically appealing. The production quality is impressive. There were two publisher binding options for The Collected Essays - both sumptuous and one positively extravagant. The lesser of the two was bound in quarter blue morocco and is lovely, but does not match the other 34 volumes of The Collected Works. The more elaborate binding option was full natural calfskin vellum with individual green slipcases, matching the 34 volumes of the preceding Centenary Edition of Churchill's book-length works. The bindings feature Churchill's coat of arms stamped in gilt. The text is printed on special 500-year archival paper and decorated with marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, head and foot bands, and silk ribbon markers. Each volume is protected in a dark green leather slipcase with the Churchill coat of arms embossed in gilt on the front cover.
Either binding of The Collected Essays is scarce, but this more elaborate binding is rarely seen alone, as it is essential to completing a uniform full set of The Collected Works. The vellum bindings were meant to tone and age naturally, but often yellow both considerably and unevenly. We are seldom able to offer a set this compellingly bright and clean. This set is one of three acquired by us from a venerable London bookseller, who acquired the sets new from the publisher and stored them in a cupboard until they were recently made available to us.
The bindings are pristine, showing no discernible signs of handling, perfectly square and tight with sharp corners and no visible wear. Shelf presentation is superlative, the spines improbably bright and clean. The contents are likewise immaculate, crisp and bright, with satin ribbon markers still in the original position placed by the publisher. We find no previous ownership marks. The gilt page edges are vividly bright with no discernible flaws noted. The books are clearly unread and we may well be the first to have ever removed them from the slipcases. In short, the set appears flawless. The publisher's green leather slipcases are likewise virtually flawless. An exceptional example of an important work, with both compelling contents and striking shelf presence.
Reference: Cohen A286, Woods/ICS A146(b), Langworth p.355. Item #004369