Title Albert, Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, Prinzgemahl der Königen von England.
Binding Full Calf
Book Condition Very Good
Publisher Hübel & Denck, bookbinder
Seller ID 005857
Extraordinarily beautiful illuminated manuscript created in honor of Prince Albert for his Grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II, we believe, and bearing the bookplate of the Kaiser's private library. And with an opulent binding worthy of a king, done by Hübel & Denck of Leipzig! Circa 1880. Folio, 36 by 31 cm. 16 leaves of extremely heavy card, with illumination on 31 pages, including the title page. Weight: over 13 pounds! The title page of the manuscript is fully painted, with two allegorical figures holding laurels standing by the title. The backdrop is a theater stage, with addtional tracery decoration and two armorial shields. Following comes a hagiographic account of Albert's life, with a rich variety of illuminated decoration dominating virtually every page. Everything is written with a calligraphic hand, with the headings done differently on each page. The illuminator strove not to repeat himself, yet everything coheres stylistically. Of all the effects, we especially like the several examples of trompe d'oeil -- on one page, a scroll is attached to what appears to be a marble wall. We also would single out the decorative letter devices as very lovely. The manuscript, although filled with dates marking milestones of Prince Albert's life, is not itself dated. At the time of Albert's death, Wilhelm was an infant, and so if the production were a gift to Wilhelm, or alternatively a commission by him, it would have been done at least a decade later, plus our sense of the object in terms of its binding and overall style would place its creation in the 1870s, or even slightly later. It is plausible that the album would have been created for Wilhelm's mother, Victoria, who was Queen Victoria's daughter, but given Wilhelm's fetish adoration of England (or love-hate relationship he had with his English heritage), we would regard it as likelier that Wilhelm was the original owner of the album. Hübel & Denck, the bookbinder, opened for business in 1875, so we can assume the book was created after that date, especially since it seems doubtful the manuscript was ever separate from the binding. The binding is one-of-a-kind. A centerpiece on the front board's blue calf is a brass mounted crown with dotted relief to suggest jewels and a velvet underlay, together simulating convincingly a royal crown. Beneath the crown is "ALBERT" written with brass mounted letters shaped in a Rococo style. The perimeter, which is raised, has several decorative gilt bands. The spine has seven raised bands, with elaborate gilt tracery decorating the compartments. Within are fleur-de-lys turn-ins surrounding the slk moire "endpapers", these having ornate gilt-decorated borders. The edges of the cards are all gilded. Condition: rubbing along edges and by corners. Front edge perimeter slightly greened and soiled. The spine decoration, which is original is mounted onto the leather -- is darkened, with wear along its thick-ish edges. We are not completely sure whether the spine and rear cover are later than the front cover, with the original spine pasted on. We would note that the endpapers in the rear are identical to those in the front, but the rear lacks the turn-ins. Closed tear to prelim blank. Light foxing on the tissue guards and occasionally the manuscripts pages.