London: Library of Imperial History, 1976. First edition. Hardcover. This is a full set of Churchill’s Collected Essays in the vellum bindings and slipcases. In 1976, the Library of Imperial History issued The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill as a welcome follow-up to the Collected Works, which included only book-length publications. Both the content and aesthetics of this four-volume set are compelling. The set compiles 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 stamped in gilt on the front cover.
Either binding of The Collected Essays is scarce, but this more elaborate binding is less readily available, as it is essential to completing a uniform full set of The Collected Works. The vellum bindings were meant to tone and age naturally, and often tone both considerably and unevenly. This set is in better than very good condition. The bindings are square, clean, and tight with sharp corners and no appreciable wear. The contents are immaculate. The original publisher’s bookplates for each volume are laid in, still unaffixed with no owner name yet written on them. The chief defect of this set is typical – meaning considerable - natural toning of the vellum bindings. The slipcases are fully intact with incidental scuffs and shelf wear.
Reference: Cohen A286, Woods/ICS A146(b), Langworth p.355. Item #006647