52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings, Week 39: the pinnacle of a 19th century book designer

The front cover of the 1866 edition of Pigot's Life of man, designed and illustrated by John Leighton.

We return this week back to the work of book designer John Leighton (featured in week 33). I don’t normally like to cover the same ground twice, but this volume was too beautiful to pass up. This week’s post is given over to the zenith of Leighton’s career, his heavily illustrated edition of Richard Pigot’s Life of man.

Title page of the 1866 Life of man.

Published in 1866, the Life of man shows Leighton’s skill as illustrator, book designer and binding designer to its fullest. This edition includes Leighton’s illustrations for the 12 months of man’s life in fullly engraved plates, as well as numerous illustrations throughout (see below).

The alternating gilt and red painted fore-edges of the Life of man.

St Andrew’s copy of the Life of man is bound in green cloth with a raised and gold-stamped full cover design. The central mandorla, or oval centrepiece, is in red cloth on both boards. The spine matches the quality of the cover and with alternating gilt and red painted fore-edges. The binding was executed by Edmonds & Remnants, and London binding firm.

Frontispiece and half title of the 1866 Life of man.

Leighton's plate for March in the 1866 Life of man.

Leighton's plate for October in the 1866 Life of man.

DG

2 responses to “52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings, Week 39: the pinnacle of a 19th century book designer

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