[ 'Smith Payne & Co.' [John Moyr Smith and James Bertrand Payne].] The Anglican Mysteries of Paris, Revealed in the Stirring Adventures of Captain Mars and his two friends Messieurs Scribbley & Daubiton.

'Smith Payne & Co.' [John Moyr Smith (1839-1912), Scottish Arts and Crafts artist; James Bertrand Payne (1833-1898), author; Edward Moxon (English, 1801-1858), London publisher; Gustav Doré]
Publication details: 
London: E. Moxon, Son & Co., 1870.
SKU: 20801

The author of the text of the present volume, J. B. Payne, was manager of the book's publisher Moxon, and ruined the firm with his sumptuous editions, including one of Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King' with illustrations by Gustav Doré, which determined Tennyson to forbid future illustrated editions of his work. The market for the present volume would have been limited, and the cost of producing it so high, that it is hard to see how it can have covered its costs. [3] + 53pp., 4to. Each of the 56 pages is lithographed in black against a light-brown background, on thick art paper. Internally in good condition, in lightly worn and aged binding with split at rear hinge. Tissue guard between frontispiece and title. Rather than sewn, the volume is an example of the gutta percha binding briefly employed at the time, and it has gone the way of all such bindings, with the glue drying out and causing some of the leaves to become neatly detached. In sturdy dark-brown cloth, with bevelled edges, blind-stamped front and back with an intricate design imitating mediaeval door hinges, brown endpapers, all edges gilt. Stamped on the front cover, in red and gilt, is a large design enclosed within a diamond pattern characteristic of the period and somewhat reminiscent of Albert Memorial statuary, enclosing the title and main characters of the book. A handsome example of mid-Victorian design, by a notable figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, and a splendid and intricately-engraved example of the humour of the period, satirizing English travellers in France, being seasick on a channel crossing, eating and drinking to excess, and enjoying the delights of Paris. Three illustrations feature Doré: 'The trio visit Monsieur Gustave [sic] Doré', 'Who invites them to an al fresco breakfast', 'And paints their portraits in heroic size'. Much of the humour, apparently in large part autobiographical, is now lost. The dedication to Louis Napoleon's son is presumably part of the joke: 'Dedication to The Prince Imperial of France, a very good little Boy, This Book a souvenir of a pleasant visit to Paris, is with his august Papa's gracious consent, inscribed as a reward for progress in his English studies by his friends & well wishers Smith Payne & Co.' Note: John Moyr Smith was at one time an employee of Christopher Dresser.