Orcutt, William Dana. In Quest of the Perfect Book: Reminiscences & Reflections of a Bookman. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1926. Color frontispiece illustration with tissue guard (Queen Mary's Psalter); profusely illustrated in black & white. A presentation copy from Orcutt. Bound by Curtis Walters in a superlative mosaic binding. On a background of dark red crushed morocco, the front and back covers are filled by a design of inlaid intersecting circles and ovals, done in inlays of navy blue, dark blue, light blue, light brown, and orange. The pattern shifts slightly from the border to the center of the boards by the use of two gilt-ruled rectangles. The covers each use approximately 662 inlays, providing a simply remarkable effect to this binding. Six compartments to spine, four of which feature a similar inlaid design, and title and author in second and fourth compartments. Top edge gilt. Blue morocco doublures with inlaid maroon border. "Bound by C. Walters" stamp at the bottom of the rear doublure. Housed in half morocco slipcover and morocco-tipped marbled paper case. Measures approx. 6.5" x 9". A sparkling example.
Lot #25 in the 1957 Parke-Bernet sale of Walters' work.
"The following lots constitute a splendid group of American mosaic bindings such as have never been offered for sale before. All of them have been consigned to us by the artist who created them, Mr. Curtis Walters. The description of bindings is always a difficult matter; it becomes practically impossible when one is faced by the stunning variety of complex patterns of colored mosaic inlays which Mr. Walters has assembled with infinite patience, extraordinary skill and sophisticated taste…" (Parke-Bernet, Tuesday, December 10th, 1957).
"The infinite variety of design permitted by mosaic work is combined with Walters' marvelous delicacy in color schemes, finely conceived geometric patterns, and tasteful use of gold leaf to produce books that no Americans save perhaps the artists of the Club Bindery could have matched. The utter simplicity of Walters' methods (he used but four tools) belies his perseverance and devotion to his art. Only infinite patience and consummate skill could have produced Walters' bindings" ("Hand Bookbinding in the United States Since the Civil War", Thompson).
During the time period of 1928-1932, Walters completed just 11 books--this volume is one of those 11 ("Curtis Walters, American Binder", Clizbee).
The Parke-Bernet catalogue and issue of the The American Book Collector that includes the article on Walters (and image of this volume) will be included.