ND [c.1750]. Full Calf. A rare survival of understated elegance. A charmingly primitive miniature Lady's Drawing Book. Very Good. Rubbing to spine and tips. Small chip to head of spine. 12 mo. (4 3/8 x 3.25 inches). Speckled calf finely ornamented with gilt tooled trailing grape vines surrounding the perimeter with corner ribbon and floral spray pattern on both front and rear boards. In the center of the front board; gilt lettering "Drawings S. Banks." stamped on red panel set within a gilt stamped frame of triangle design. Gilt Grecian urn surrounded by willow branch above the lettered panel, with urn below. Decoration repeated on the rear board. There is evidence of [period] gilt removal to the asymmetrical trailing portion and base of the gilt design on the rear board. Gilt trailing grape vine and fillet pattern to spine. Marbled end-papers with gilt turn-ins.
The album consists of 41 unnumbered leaves; each block-printed around the perimeter to create an arabesque patterned border. Each leaf is printed in alternating colors of Prussian Green, Indian Red and Charcoal. There is evidence of seven leaves excised from the center of the book. The sole painting is on the final leaf; that being a delicate bouquet of rosebuds with withered leaves and silvered Jasmine spray.
The overall tone of this tiny album is one of muted understated elegance. Perhaps this book was initially intended as a mourning book- thus the Grecian urn/willow motif in the tooling, and somber color palette. Although there is little information which leads us to definitive attribution of this small book; speculation concerning its origin is in our favor.
The book is undoubtedly mid-eighteenth century British. The binding is elaborately designed yet primitive in execution; undoubtedly created by a novice- or apprentice- binder. The marbled endpaper pattering and laid paper with tear drops are indicators of eighteen century craftsmanship. And finally, as Sir Joseph Banks, Naturalist and Baron (British 1743–1820) clearly reigned in the world of eighteenth century botanical exploration, discovery and execution, one would like to find association. Sir Banks' mother was named Sarah, as was his sister; Sarah Sophia (1744–1818) who was a noted collector of antiquarian items; historic coins, metals, engravings and ephemera of historic significance- perhaps she painted flowers, as well. DNB. Very Good. Item #7111