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Le Morte D'Arthur (Bound By The Chelsea Bindery) - Malory, Sir Thomas - 1893. 
First edition: Two volumes. One of 1500 sets of the 'ordinary issue' published by J.M. Dent in 1893 (there are also 300 sets printed on Van Gelder paper). The BOOKS are in Very Good++ or better condition. Top edge gilt. Free from inscriptions and erasures. Some toning to the pages edges and minor edge wear to the page edges in a few places with in Vol. 2, a repair to a small closed tear on the verso of the lower edge of the colophon page and a small area of loss to the lower edge of the title page. Two frontispieces with some offsetting of these to the facing pages and 18 full page wood engravings (including five double-page), numerous text illustrations, and approximately 350 designs for chapter headings and borders, all by Aubrey Beardsley. Both volumes have been lavishly rebound by The Chelsea Bindery in full black morocco with five raised bands. Re-gilding of the top edges with gilt titling and decoration to the spines, covers and interior borders. Beautiful marbled endpapers with two further blank endpapers to the front and rear in both volumes. The binding remains tight in both volumes. Very minimal rubbing to the gilt decoration in places. An exquisite set of Beardsley's masterpiece. Always an avid reader Beardsley frequented London's antiquarian book shops, where he forged a friendship with book shop owner, Frederick Evans. Evans admired Aubrey's work and introduced him to a fellow customer, publisher J.M. Dent. Dent was planning a beautifully illustrated version of Malory's Morte D'Arthur, along the lines of some of Morris's Kelmscott Press books, but using a less expensive printing process. Loath to pay the elevated fee William Morris would charge for this commission, Dent was persuaded to employ Aubrey Beardsley. To help secure this commission Beardsley drew 'The Achieving of the Sangreal'. The images drawn for this volume remain the artist's most striking work and have not been equalled by any of his many disciples. Beardsley's life was tragically short with him dying of tuberculosis at the age of 26. In those few years he managed however to leave a great and lasting artistic legacy. A beautiful set.
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