VENTURI, Lionello. Botticelli. [BOUND BY CAVANMAN BERNARD KIERNAN]
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With fifty plates in full colour. London: Phaidon Press, n.d. [1930s]. Quarto. pp. 80. Bound by Bernard Kiernan in full tan morocco over bevelled boards. Covers ruled in gilt with geometrical circular design and sunbursts, title in gilt direct along purple morocco spine. Spine divided into six panels by five raised bands, title and author in gilt direct in the second, gilt rays in the fourth and fifth; plain doublures ruled in gilt; grey marbled pastedowns; Cockerell comb-marbled free endpapers; purple and tan thick endbands. Signed ‘Kiernan 1964’ on turn-in of lower board. Top edge gilt. Preserved in fleece-lined morocco-backed cloth chemise and cloth slip-case. An exceedingly rare example of a Kiernan fine binding.
Few are aware of master bookbinder Bernard Kiernan (1922-1967). Bernard Henry Kiernan took up bookbinding as a hobby in 1954 at age thirty-two. He was largely self-taught and became a member of the Guild of Contemporary Binders in 1958 and exhibited at Foyles in the same year. He was elected a Fellow of the Guild but, alas, died in 1967 at age forty-five. Bibliographer J.R. Abbey had a number of books bound by him, one of which is illustrated in The Anthony Dowd Collection of Modern Bindings (John Rylands University Library, 2002, pp. 106-7). He also bound a copy of Craig’s Irish Bookbindings 1600-1800 (the Maddock Collection). A copy of Charles Holme’s The Art of the Book bound by Kiernan is found in the British Library. Many volumes in the Gutteridge collection of books on cricket were also bound by Kiernan. He was held in high regard for his original designs and tooling skills, as splendidly displayed here. His career was short, his work distinguished and very scarce.
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