John Ruskin's essays were extremely popular, as evidenced by this book's identification as in the 'one hundred and ninety first thousand in original form'. The two contained in this volume "Of Kings' Treasuries", and "Of Queens' Gardens", were written, according to Ruskin's own preface 'for young people belonging to the upper, or undistressed middle, classes; who may be supposed to have choice of the objects and command of the industries of their life.'
Ruskin (1819–1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy, and was hugely influential in the latter half of the 19th century, and up to the First World War. After a period of relative decline, his reputation has steadily improved since the 1960s with the publication of numerous academic studies of his work. Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognised as having anticipated our modern interest in environmentalism, sustainability and craft.
This little book is a pleasure to handle, being bound in soft green leather, somewhat worn at the edges and corners, and with some frank damage to top and bottom of the spine, but with the gilt titles etc. clear and bright on both front cover and spine. The green silk page marker is present, and page tops are gilt.
The binding is generally firm, but there is weakness at pp 96-7 (see photo). The pages are clean and the text clear throughout. Some passages are printed in red as required by the author. There is no foxing, but some very light tanning throughout.