1905-1906 Royal Visit to India. an exceptionally sumptuously bound copy of the limited royal edition of 12.


Johnstone, J. W. D.: Gwalior 1905. No. 9 of an Edition of 12 copies. John & Edward Bumpus Ltd. [London] [1906] 1st edition, 11 x 9 ins.

Royal Tour of the Prince and Princess of Wales 1905-1906, Sumptuously Bound Copy from a Limited Edition of 12;

11 coloured plates [soldiers from the Irregular Forces and of the Musical Ride], 37 other plates [mainly photogravures from photographs, a few with two illustrations to the plate, including a plan and a frontispiece of the Prince & Princess of Wales], x, 138pp. Publisher’s Edition de luxe of 12 of which this copy is number 9, finely bound [by Bumpus] in full green morocco, elaborately gilt with the Prince of Wales’s crest repeated over the boards with the Maharaja Scindia’s snake device to the corners, the rear board centred with a large gilt Prince of Wales’ crest in an oval and the same space on the bevelled front board inset with a hand painted miniature portrait of the Maharaja [60 x 50 mm visible] glazed within a plain gilt metal frame, the spine with raised bands and the elaborately tooled compartments with title and alternating crests. The binding is in excellent condition with just slight signs of cracking along the rear joint and a small area of loss of colour at the bottom inch of that joint and along part of the lower edge of the rear board [shown in photographs]. All edges are gilt and the book is printed on superior hand laid paper; the plates retain their tissue guards and several of those and a handful of the plates have some brown spotting marks. The book has a signed presentation inscription from the Maharaja to the front free endpaper With Kindest Regards from M. Scindia, Gwalior 1908. There are no other ownership markings although the book is the copy which was acquired from a family source which identified it as having been given to Lord Kitchener who at the time was Commander in Chief in India. The standard edition of this book was produced in much plainer cloth.
Gwalior’s Maharajas were well known as some of the most loyal to the British Crown and their generosity as lavish and thoughtful hosts is well recorded. Invitations to hunt tiger there were much prized and most of the Viceroys spent time there [Lord Hardinge seems to have been there almost annually and continued to visit even after he was succeeded in office by Lord Chelmsford]. The Maharajas were also well known for gifts of generously produced photograph albums. However the sumptuous nature and tiny production number of this volume puts it in a quite exceptional class. The Prince of Wales [later George V] and the Princess [later Queen Mary] visited India in the winter of 1905-1906 and it is particularly noticeable that the tour was arranged so that they arrived on the royal train from Agra on 20th December and spent the Christmas period there, staying until 26th December. This book is largely devoted to a detailed description of these few days. All the usual events took place – state arrival, state banquet, a day with the Maharaja’s army, tiger shooting, a church service – but there are also unusual details such as the list of children who were given presents from the Christmas tree. Apparently the present distribution was somewhat chaotic and is described by Johnstone: It was at this moment that the Prince of Wales and the Maharaja returned from shooting the Christmas tiger, and, entering the room with some of the staff, immediately set to work to help the smallest boys and girls to finish the work of despoiling the tree. This was carried on eagerly until practically nothing was left on the boughs. The tree…now presented a very dishevelled appearance…. Instead of being treated with the semi-solemn ritual of the ordinary Christmas tree party, as inculcated by the Germans to their law-abiding children, and by them imported to other lands, the tree had lost most of its ornaments and many of its lights. The carpet for yards round the tree was strewn with broken blown glass, which, happily for the stockinged feet of the Indian children, does not cut. Every boy and girl had their arms as full of spoils as they could hold.
Although we have twice handled this copy we have had only one other example of this edition, No 6, which had been re-cased as the hinges and joints must have failed to hold the very thick and heavy bevelled boards. We sold that copy in the 1999 Visions of India sale at Christie’s King Street where it realised a hammer price of £3,500. That copy came from Scotland and may have had its provenance in a viceregal family.
One can only think that the distribution list of these 12 volumes must have been extraordinarily select – Their Royal Highnesses, the King, the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief, the Maharaja and a handful of others. There are unlikely to be many other copies that will come to the market.

One of our illustrations shows the page from our reference copy of the 1999 sale.  jun20/1

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