London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1948. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. Here is a finely bound set of all five of Churchill's post-WWII speech volumes. The five volumes are The Sinews of Peace (1948), Europe Unite (1950), In the Balance (1951), Stemming the Tide (1953) and The Unwritten Alliance (1961). Bound with The Sinews of Peace is Maxims and Reflections, the first book of Churchill quotations, published in 1947.
These five volumes of postwar speeches span the period from Demobilization in late 1945, when Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, through his second Premiership (1951-1955) into a time when Churchill passes "into a living national memorial" of the time he has lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he has served.
The elegant, orange-brown, beautifully grained, full Niger Morocco goatskin bindings feature hubbed spines with blind-rule framed bands, gilt rules at the spine head and tail, subtly radiused corners, and Churchill’s ancestral Marlborough arms in gilt on the front cover. The contents are bound with gilt top edges and double gilt-ruled turn-ins framing striking marbled endpapers. Even the gold and red silk head and foot bands are executed with manifest skill. This compellingly handsome example of the fine binder’s craft is a reminder to collectors that not all fine bindings are created equal.
Gilt print on each volume’s lower front pastedown turn-in attributes these bindings to “HENRY SOTHERAN, LTD.” Founded in York in 1761 and established in London in 1815, Sotheran’s is one of the world’s oldest bookshops. These fine bindings commissioned by Sotheran’s deliberately and closely emulated the fine bindings of the signed and limited first edition of Marlborough: His Life and Times (Churchill, 1933-1938, bound by Leighton-Straker). The bindings of this set and the publisher’s original Marlborough fine bindings look closely akin when shelved together.
This book comes from the collection of British army veteran and noted Churchillian Major Alan Taylor-Smith (1928-2019) of Westerham, Kent, proximate to Churchill’s beloved country home, Chartwell.
Condition is near fine. Each of the five bindings is in exceptional condition. The only appreciable wear we note is superficial scuffs to The Unwritten Alliance covers and even lesser scuffs in two spine compartments of Europe Unite. Any minor blemishes appear inherent to the skins and mild toning of the leather lends aesthetic character to both shelf presentation and the bindings overall. The contents are suited to the bindings. We fine no spotting and no previous ownership marks in any of the volumes. The gilt top edges remain bright.
The events encompassed by these years are in many ways no less dramatic than those of the war years - the unraveling of the British Empire, the post-war recovery, the onset of the Cold War, Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb, development of the hydrogen bomb, and the beginning of the space age (to name a few). These postwar speech volumes are scarcer than Churchill’s War Speeches volumes; all five books had only a single printing. Moreover, the fifth and final volume, The Unwritten Alliance, was issued only in Britain, with no U.S. edition.
Reference: Cohen A241.1, A246.1, A255.1, A264.1, A273; Woods/ICS A124(a), A128(a), A130(a), A137(a), A142; Langworth pages 184, 296, 301, 309, 338
Bound alongside The Sinews of Peace, Maxims and Reflections is the first published book of Churchill quotations. Though many books of Churchill quotations would follow, bibliographer Curt Zoller calls this edition "still a model of the genre" and "an authoritative source." It was arranged and provided with an introduction by Sir Colin Reith Coote (1893-1979), a friend of Churchill, a Liberal politician, journalist, and longtime editor of London's Daily Telegraph. Zoller credits Coote with having "diligently sought out the most interesting expressions from Churchill's speeches and writings, verifying his citations, arranging them by general categories, and adding accompanying notes."
Reference: Zoller A122. Item #006522