Our beautiful and unusual copy of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale was published by J. M. Dent & Co. in 1907 and is a superb example of a ‘vellucent’ binding by Chivers of Bath. Cedric Chivers (1853-1929) perfected the technique of using hand-coloured illustrations with transparent vellum and patented his method in 1903 under the name ‘vellucent’, or ‘vellum made translucent’, binding. Vellucent binding was promoted as a method for preserving old leather bindings and also as a new style of cover decoration. In this type of binding the painting is on paper, rather than on the underside of the vellum itself; the paper is attached to the boards of the binding, then covered and protected by a very thin layer of vellum.
On A Christmas Carol the vellucent technique has been combined with the more traditional discipline of gilt tooling and an inlaid mother-of-pearl border, which is also protected by the vellum. Cedric Chivers exhibited vellucent binding in London and Paris and at the 1904 St Louis World Fair, where his invention took the gold medal.
The first 1,000 books of the Cardiff Rare Books Collection have now been catalogued to full rare books standard and can be found on Cardiff University Library’s Voyager catalogue.
Merry Christmas from the SCOLAR team!