Poems of Robert Browning containing Dramatic Lyrics, Dramatic Romances, Men and Women, Dramas, Pauline, Paracelsus, Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day, Sordello and Dramatis Personae
Full dark blue morocco leather binding; front and back covers outlined in double gilt fillets, corner designs of gilt leaves, gouges, and dots surrounding a single gilt flower ornament tucked in the angle are elegantly placed in each corner of the front and back covers, two blind and two evenly spaced gilt fillets connect the corner pieces creating rectangular panels on the front and back covers; spine has five raised bands creating six compartments, second compartment from top is outlined in gilt and contains in gilt upper case letters “ R. Browning’s Poetical Works”, date of publication “1907” in gilt at foot of bottom compartment, design of gilt leaves and dots framed by gilt borders decorate five of the six spine compartments; leather turn-ins elaborately tooled with gilt leaves, stems and dots with flower tool from covers repeated in the outer corners; green-gray marbled endpapers, oval stamp (WHS) in blind on the lower left side on back inside cover, small printed label with “The Knole Guild (Misses Speall)” is located on the lower right corner of the inside front cover; text block in gilt on all three edges.
The elaborated composed and skillfully executed floral corner pieces are in sharp contrast to the empty centre panels on the covers. The end effect is deceptively simple and balanced.
Unknown number of trade copies published in London under the Henry Frowde* imprint of the Oxford University Press. While the tightly printed double column text remained the same, the bindings and finishes varied to appeal to a wide range of consumer tastes and budgets. At the highest end of the scale was a full leather deluxe binding by the W.H. Smith Bindery. From 1905 to 1914 Douglas Cockerell managed the Smith Bindery and designed all the special bindings.
*Henry Frowde (1841-1927) was the astute publisher of the Oxford University Press from 1883 to 1913. Under his guidance the Press established a reputation for craftsmanship and the techniques to consistently produce both beautiful and compact books. (Dictionary of National Biography: doi: 10.1093/ref:odnb/33280)