Rare Folio Society Special Binding Hermsprong | Beautiful Books

This video is about the rarest folio society
book ever produced – a special limited edition binding of Hermsprong by Robert Bage. During the late 1950’s a number of Folio Society
members were interested in having the option to buy the Society’s books in specially bound
and signed limited editions. So in 1960 five experimental limited editions
were produced, to be bound in full morocco leather, signed by the illustrator and numbered
on an inserted colophon leaf. However, they did not prove particularly popular
and despite the original intent to do a limitation run of 250, the actual number of copies bound
ranged from 25 to 75 copies only. The rarest of these rare volumes is Hermsprong
or Man As He Is Not by Robert Bage, illustrated and signed by Cecil Keeling. It was published in 1960 and bound in green
morocco. As was more usual for this time period, the
signature is bound in at the end of the book, not the front. Only 25 copies of this special binding were
produced, and so I’m showing here since it’s not likely many people will ever have
the opportunity to see this edition otherwise. As you can see, my copy has been well read,
and the leather has darkened along the spine. Of course, if you’re interested in the book
itself, Folio also released a standard edition of this book at the same time which is much
more commonly available. Hermsprong was Bage’s last novel, written
about a generation before Jane Austen. It satirizes English society of the 1790s
targeting, in particular, corrupt clergymen, grasping lawyers and wicked aristocrats. The protagonist, Charles Hermsprong, is a
European raised among Native Americans, who visits Europe and is dismayed by what he encounters. The story celebrates lively debate and has
been categorised by some as a romantic comedy. One of the early Folio society bibliographies
– Folio 21 – has a delightfully amusing entry on the book: “An example of the ‘unpopular’
title which we feel must be included in a programme from time to time, both for its
intrinsic merit and to give balance. Hermsprong is a brilliant novel, but fulfilled
all our expectations as an extremely poor seller.” Please let us know in the comments what the
rarest book in your library is, thanks for watching, and do subscribe if you’d like
to see more beautiful books.

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