ijkahn

Jun 302018
 

One of the very best things about what I do is finding things that are truly wonderful and finding them the *perfect* home. While in Oxford a few months ago, Ben Maggs of Maggs Bros. told me about a remarkable set of Doves Press books they were in the midst of cataloguing. Purchased by a father for his daughter, the set was complete and included every receipt and in extraordinary condition. I knew just the person to pick up the mantle of stewardship for this collection…this remarkable set of books will be treasured and cared for anew, as they so clearly were by their first owner. It is moments like this that make everything I do make sense. I have included below Maggs’ wonderful research and description for your pleasure:

William Lang Lang (1852–1937) was a senior ophthalmologist, and enthusiast for and collector of Arts and Crafts furniture, silverware and books. He lived in Chiswick as a young adult, and ministered professionally to members of the West London socialist set. He was on dining terms with William Morris, although their intimacy was probably overstated by his family’s belief that Morris stood god-child to his daughter Lyndon. Halliday Sparling (The Kelmscott Press, p. 17) reports Lang as a participant in a discussion between Morris and the typefounder Talbot Baines Reed on the relationship between “ocular health” and typography. In his introduction to Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant George Bernard Shaw enjoyed the paradox of Lang’s diagnosis of his vision as “normal”: Lang had ex- plained that only about 10% of people have this, which Shaw jumped on as proof that it was the others who were wrong “My mind’s eye, like my body’s was “normal” it saw things differently from other people’s eyes, and saw them better.1” W.B. Yeats also consulted Lang professionally. Norman Kelvin in the Collected Letters of William Morris describes Lang as a friend of Emery Walker, and it is conceivable that the early blindness of Walker’s father was an initial point of contact.
Lang, who had private means in addition to his professional income, had a complete set of Kelmscotts, including a pigskin Chaucer, and not one, but two complete sets of Doves Press books – one for his son and one for his daughter. The Kelmscotts and one of the Doves sets were sold at auction in 19462, nearly a decade after Lang’s death, and although both sets were offered subject to the auctioneer’s option to sell them as a single item, they were in fact broken up. The current set of Doves Press books, as well as some of his furniture and silver, was inherited by his daughter Marie Lyndon Lang, who was an enthusiastic bookbinder herself (several of her bindings are included in this collection for context), and was in turn inherited on her death in 1977 by George Chapman, a spirit healer, or “psychic surgeon” who had a successful career channelling the spirit of her late father.

The Doves Press

The Doves Press was founded in 1901, nine years after William Lang moved away from Chiswick, as a partnership between the typographer and printer Emery Walker, and Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, who had already established himself as the leading bookbinder of his generation. Both Walker and Cobden-Sanderson were intimate collaborators with Morris in the Kelmscott Press, Cobden-Sanderson binding many Kelmscott books (including the great pigskin Chaucer) at his Doves Bindery, and Emery Walker acting as principal printing adviser, Morris writing later that “I was not much of a typographer before Mr. Walker took me in hand. …” The Kelmscott Press ended with Morris’s death in 1896, and it is possible to see the Doves Press as a continuation of its work, although it is difficult to exaggerate just how different the products were.
Most histories of the Doves Press focus on Cobden-Sanderson, emphasizing his role in founding the Press, and it is not hard to understand why: he was a romantic and eccentric visionary figure (he described him- self as “a Visionary and Fanatic”3) who “combined in one person one of the most rational and one of the most irrational of beings”4, driven by a vaguely aligned but deeply held religious passion yet with an unshakeable faith in the ability of man through science and engineering to con- struct “the House Beautiful, the Inhabitable Earth.” Books were the chosen syncretic object through which to achieve his goal of advancing the “Workmanship of Life in Life itself”5, initially through their binding, and later through their printing.

 

The run of vellum bound Doves books. They are in remarkably fresh condition, unthumbed and unworn. The apparent discolouration in this picture is caused by the natural variations in tone with the vellum.

The Doves Press was almost literally built on the foundations of the Kelmscott Press – their pressman Harry Gage-Cole had been apprenticed at Kelmscott, they used paper from the same mill, and were based just a few doors from Kelmscott House – but it expressed a fundamentally different ethos, one which has arguably had rather more direct influence on modern aesthetics. The Doves Press output had the same coherence as Kelmscott’s, but a great deal more clarity, exchanging a more modern spiritual view of the role of art and labour for Morris’s rich medievalism. As Colin Franklin wrote “Morris and decoration and Gothic … showed great panache in a street marked clearly ‘No Thoroughfare’. Walker and Cobden-Sanderson started upon the broad way to our own taste”6. Of Morris’s taste for ornament Cobden-Sanderson himself was scathing, writing in his extraordinary Journals. “I am not greatly interested in the decoration of books, although I decorate them; it is in the ideal of which the binding and decoration of books are illustrations that I am interested, and therefore secondarily in the decoration and binding of books”, of Morris’s life he wrote “Morris’s life was something of a tragedy …


Above left: the three morocco bound books issued by the press, and the printed Cobden-Sanderson letters to the Press. Above right: all the original invoices are present.

He should have become an architect, a master builder; he became instead – an upholsterer”, and … of the Kelmscotts he wrote “I cannot get beyond the Typography. The thing intended to be conveyed will ever be ‘intended to be conveyed’, and will never be conveyed! I have not read all or any portion of any one of the Books printed by him and I think I never shall, but I have said and say that as to the Books themselves I should like to make a bath of them; they are so delightful to the eyes and inviting to the sense of touch. This upon the side of their excess of Beauty.” Most importantly, he was not concerned with re-enacting the work of the great printers of the past “We are the men of the middle and of all other ages, but our setting, actual and acquired, is different, and consequently our ‘creations’ take other forms. To force ourselves into the forms of other times is to be affected, and to be useless for our time … men of today, who affect the forms of other times, have their eyes wholly or partially closed.”
The overwhelming ambition of the Press, as expressed by Cobden- Sanderson in his remarkable manifesto-like text The Ideal Book or Book Beautiful, printed as the second publication of the Press, would come across as hubristic nonsense were not the books themselves so perfect; equally his vision of the book as “a symbol of the infinitely beautiful in which all things of Beauty rest and unto which all things of Beauty rest and unto which all things of Beauty do ultimately merge” would be eminently mockable, if he hadn’t actually delivered on these dreams. As it was, this desire to express cosmic harmony through the making of books led to some of the most perfect objects the world has ever seen, simultaneously austere and luxurious.

The Protagonists

Cobden-Sanderson (who took the first part of his surname from his wife, Annie, daughter of Richard Cobden, liberal businessman and anti corn- law campaigner) tested several different careers, including engineering, the Church, mathematics and law (which he practiced for over a decade) before the patronage of Annie allowed him to settle on his life’s work. His mysticism was at times incomprehensible, his prose was perfectly formed but complex, and his personal style florid, with his berets, tunics and cravats, but he was a great deal more than a theorist. He had astonished the bookbinder Roger de Coverley at the speed with which he learnt the skills of bookbinding, and the 145 books that he bound with his own hand before establishing the Doves Bindery are among the greatest bookbindings ever made: his practice established the model (still dominant in the Anglo-Saxon world) for the artist-binder. With the encouragement of Annie, Cobden-Sanderson had long harbored ambitions to print as well as bind, but founding the Doves Press would have been impossible without the aid of a skilled and experienced partner, who Cobden-Sanderson found in Emery Walker.
Unlike Cobden-Sanderson, Walker’s name was not widely known by the general public; he was ‘a shy, practical man’ (p.492, John R. Nash.) who ‘carried everywhere with him an atmosphere of genial friendliness’ (J.H. Mason), with a ‘fine appearance but quite in contrast to that of Cobden- Sanderson’ (Ibid.) Walker had ‘raised himself from a poor background [and] educated himself into the foremost authority in England on print- ing and its history’ (p.492, John R. Nash.) In contrast to Cobden-Sanderson’s proud amateurism, Walker was an experienced typographer with a background of almost an entire working life spent in the printing and photoengraving trade, and who had founded a successful process-en- graving business with Walter Boutall in 1883. Walker was a pivotal figure in the Private Press movement and it was a lecture given by him to the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888 on the history of typography which inspired Morris to found the Kelmscott Press. It was during this lecture that Walker illustrated his design principles by projecting images of fifteenth century typefaces using a magic lantern and slides of photo- graphically enlarged type; the technique appealed to Morris, despite his disavowal of industrial technology, and he worked with Walker to create photographic enlargements of the type of the Venetian printer Nicholas Jenson, upon which he based the design for his Golden type in 1891. As Morris later admitted, ‘I was not much a typographer before Mr Walker took me in hand.’
And this is one of the things that is unique about the Doves Press – un- like Morris’s Kelmscott, St. John Hornby’s Ashendene, Mardersteig’s Bodoni, or Kessler’s Cranach, this combination of the mystic and the technician was a genuine partnership: “Each was complementary to the other, and it was their union that gave us the Doves Press and a new out- look in typography” (J.H. Mason).

The Doves Type

Every private press worthy of the name needs its own type, and for theirs Cobden-Sanderson and Walker turned initially to the same source that Morris had used for his Roman face, the “Golden” type, after Walker (who attended the auction) & Cobden-Sanderson (who paid the bill) bought Morris’s own copy of the Jenson Pliny at Morris’s library sale in 1898. This provided the model for the upper case letters, while the lower case were modelled on the very similar type used in Rubeus’ edition of Aretinus, also printed in Venice in 1476. The letters were drawn by Percy Tiffin of Walker’s firm, working closely with Cobden-Sanderson and Walker, and the punches for it were cut by Edward Prince.

Above: The celebrated opening page of the Bible.

All the Doves books were printed in this one type, with variation added by wood-engraved or hand-flourished initials, and the type came to be something of a “consecrated instrument”7 for Cobden-Sanderson, leading to the celebrated row over the type itself, culminating in its destruction. Much has been written about this episode: the short version is that as the partnership between the two men was breaking down (C-S complaining that Walker played too little a role in the day-to-day running of the press, just dropping in on his way to other appointments) the focal point became the ownership of the type, and its future use. So determined was Cobden-Sanderson that the type would not be used for any less sacred productions than those of the Doves Press, that during the dissolution of the partnership with Walker he covertly began its destruction. As he wrote in his Journals “To the bed of the River Thames I bequeath the Doves Press Fount of Type – the punches, the matrices, and the type in use at the time of my death, and may the river in its tides and flow pass over them to and from the great sea for ever and for ever, or until its tides and flow for ever cease; then may they share the fate of all the world, and pass from change to change for ever upon the Tides of Time, untouched of other use and all else.” He began with the matrices and punches, dropping them from Hammersmith Bridge, and bit by bit, night after night, carried the whole half ton or so of type to the bridge and covertly let them fall. This pagan sacrificial rite, giving back to the River God what Cobden-Sanderson saw as his own sacred type, was incomprehensible to Walker, a much plainer man.

Conclusion

The partnership between Cobden-Sanderson and Walker, and its dissolution with the destruction of the type has been much analyzed. There is a tendency of commentators to take one side of the argument and to minimize the contribution of the other partner
Towards the end of writing this note, the cataloguer has turned to reread Colin Franklin’s essay on the Doves Press, published in his The Private Presses. It is a commentary that makes all other contributions seem rather clumsy. It begins:
“It is a kind of paradox that the Doves Press, simplest and purest of them all in style, was the creation of more passion and complexity of thought than the rest of them put together. Doves Press books have to be seen from more than one level, and the fascination grows upon acquaintance.” After observing that “the visual merits of Doves Press books are from Emery Walker” and that “the taste and knowledge of Emery Walker guided and presided” in the operation of the press, he makes a rather unexpected observation (well, unexpected for a printing historian): “The design was an engineering job, the books a bridge across to mystic realms of cloud and God. And this is where Cobden-Sanderson takes over from Emery Walker. His vision of the ideal book is difficult to express and he quickly became woolly in attempting it; but Cobden-Sanderson had an astonishing gift of mystic communion, practicing the techniques of yoga in his own life and with no effort realizing the wonder and mystery of a moment in the day – or hours at a stretch – when he chose to pause, to think and listen … and when he turned to printing at the age of sixty, the book became for him a symbol of those moments within the day, which contained eternity. Books could reduce God to a page of visible type, as sunlight on a still morning showed the river in His form; and that was the reason for making a book with immense care, and making it beautiful.”

The Rarity of Complete Sets

The Lang collection includes all the published books of the Doves Press, in fine condition, with their original invoices, and an unbroken provenance. Although there are relatively many complete sets in institutions, and at least one in private collection, after fairly extensive research we have not been able to find any records of a set having been sold in one tranche, either at auction or in the trade. Forgive us the indulgence of quoting the California printer John Henry Nash’s account of showing Annie Cobden-Sanderson the William Andrews Clark collection:
‘Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson looked at the collection for a few moments and burst into tears. On recovering her composure she told Mr. Clark that she had never before seen all of her husband’s work assembled in one place.’

Checklist

All references are to Marianne Tidcombe’s invaluable The Doves Press. London, 2002.
Condition is exemplary throughout, and all the books are fresh and unworn. All minor details are noted in the individual descriptions, natural variation in the colours of the vellum is considered an asset not a defect. A complete file of invoices from their original purchase is included, in each case for two copies. As noted above, William Lang assembled two complete sets, one for his son and one for his daughter.
Tacitus (Publius Cornelius). Agricola.
One of 225 copies on paper, with an additional 5 on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[4] i–[xxxiii] [3]. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1901. Tidcombe DP1
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James).
The Ideal Book or Book Beautiful.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 10 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[4] 1–[10] [2]. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. February 1901. Tidcombe DP2
Mackail (John William). William Morris.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[4] 1–27 [1]. Title page printed in red and black, with additional red text on p.1, p.2 and p.18. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1901. Tidcombe DP3
Tennyson (Alfred Lord). [Classical Poems].
One of 325 copies on paper, with an additional 25 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp. [1–4] 5–[56]. First and last poems printed in red, each poem also preceded by a page with title in red. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. July 1902. Tidcombe DP4
Milton (John). Paradise Lost.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 22 copies on vellum and 3 copies on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp. [1–2] 3– [388] [12]. Title in red on p.15, heading and initial on p.16 and book numbers throughout. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, with some slight foxing to the fore-edges of pp.14– 16, 34–37, 273–275 and 346–348, most likely as a result of flaws in the paper. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1902. Tidcombe DP5
The English Bible.
One of 500 copies on paper, with an additional 2 on vellum. 5 Vols., large 4to., 24x34cm. pp. [1–3] 4–[395] [5], pp. [1–2] 3–[529] [1], pp.[1–14] 15– [392], pp.[1–14] 15–[302] [2], pp.[1–2] 3–[308] [12]. Initials printed in red throughout, along with heading on p.27 of Vol. I, and the following in Vol 2: last three lines of Psalm 41 p.333, last five lines of Psalm 72 p.362, last two lines of Psalm 89 p.382, and the last three lines of Psalm 106 p.400. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, with moderate foxing to the first gathering of vol.1 due to a flaw in the paper which is present in most, if not all, sets. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1903 – June 1905. Tidcombe DP6
Milton (John). Paradise Regained, etc.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 22 copies on vellum and 3 copies on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–4] 5– [344]. Heading on p.12 printed in red, along with initials and titles in the margins throughout, also characters and stage directions in ‘Arcades’ and ‘A Mask,’ and characters in ‘Samson Agonistes’; additionally, p.157 one line, p.167 two lines, p.171 one line, p.175 one line, p.177 four lines, p.178 three lines, p.181 three lines, p.218 four lines, p.219 six lines, p.220 two lines, p.224 six lines, p.291 five lines, p.340 three lines. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1905. Tidcombe DP7.
Emerson (Ralph Waldo). Essays, with a preface by
Thomas Carlyle.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 25 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–5] 6–[312]. Initials printed in red throughout, along with names of characters p.212–214. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, slight foxing to pp.101–103. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1906. Tidcombe DP8.
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James). London.
One of what Tidcombe calls ‘probably 300 copies on paper,’ with an additional 5 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1] 2–[8]. 7 Lines printed in red on p.8. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1906. Tidcombe DP9.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Faust.
One of 300 copies on paper, with an additional 22 copies on vellum and a further 3 on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–6] 7–[261] [3]. Characters names and stage directions printed in red throughout, along with titles, acts and scenes in the margins and three lines on p.23. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, slight spotting to fore-edge. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1906. Tidcombe DP10.
Ruskin (John). Unto this Last.
One of 300 copies on paper with an additional 12 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[i–iv] v–[xiv] 1–[122] [1]. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. March 1907. Tidcombe DP11.
Milton (John). Areopagitica.
One of 300 copies on paper with an additional 22 copies on vellum, three of which have title pages in red and black. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1– 7] 8–[75] [5]. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, slight foxing pp.34–35, 56–57 and rear pastedown slightly cockled due to poor application of glue during binding. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1907. Tidcombe DP12.
Carlyle (Thomas). Sartor Resartus.
One of 300 copies, with an additional 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–4] 5–[342] [2]. Initials and titles printed in red throughout, title page with a quote from Goethe in red, along with book and chapter numbers in the margins and two short passages on p.18 and p.251. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, some glue-staining to the spine edge of the covers from binding, rear pastedown slightly cockled in places from an uneven application of glue, internally pristine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1907. Tidcombe DP13.
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James). Catalogue Raisonné.
One of 300 copies on paper. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1] 2–[8]. Titles and paragraph marks printed in red throughout. Original quarter linen with blue paper boards by the Doves Bindery. Fine, very slight bump to lower edge of upper board, a trace of fading along the outward edge of the boards, with a line of foxing to the fore-edge of the front-free endpaper. Hammersmith, Doves Press. May 1908. Tidcombe DP14
Browning (Robert). Men & Women. 2 vols.
One of 250 copies on paper with an additional 12 on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, Vol. 1 pp.[1–6] 7–[201] [7], Vol. 2, pp. [1–6] 7–[194] [2]. Initials and titles printed in red throughout, along with poem titles in the margins, character names in vol. II p.43–73, along with some isolated words and phrases throughout. Contents page with pen flourishes in green and blue before each poem title, along with the following half title, and at the start of each poem throughout; Tidcombe notes that ‘probably only 200 of the paper copies were flourished’. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spines lettered in gilt. Fine, with the faintest of foxing to fore-edges. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1908 – December 1908. Tidcombe DP15
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James). Credo.
One of 250 copies on paper, with an additional 12 on vellum. Small 8vo., 11.5×16.5cm, pp. [1–8]. Original full navy-blue Morocco, spine and upper cover lettered in gilt, a.e.g. Fine, with a small dent towards the fore-edge of the upper cover. Hammersmith, Doves Press. April 1909. Tidcombe DP16.
Shakespeare (William). Hamlet.
One of 250 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp. [1–6] 7–[160] [1]–[24]. Hand-drawn initial ‘W’ on p.7 in green. Two lines, including authors name, printed in red on title page, along with the following half-title, also printed in red are character’s names and stage directions throughout, along with titles, acts and scenes in the margins. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1909. Tidcombe DP17.
Shakespeare (William) Sonnets.
One of 250 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp. [1–5] 6–[86] [2]. Two full page initials on p.6 and p.82, a half-page initial on p.70 and another smaller initial on p.84; all printed in black, designed by Edward Johnston and cut by Noel Rooke and Eric Gill. Three lines of title page printed in red, along with titles and numbers of sonnets throughout, the entirety of sonnet 126 on p.69 and the list on sonnets on p.[86]. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1909. Tidcombe DP18.
Winship (George Parker). William Caxton.
One of 300 paper copies, with an additional 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp. [1–4] 5–[27] [5]. Four lines on the title page printed in red, along with initials throughout and colophon. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, the faintest signs of foxing between p.12–14. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1909. Tidcombe DP19.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Faust. Zweiter Theil.
One of 250 copies on paper, with an additional 22 copies on vellum and a further 3 copies on vellum with initials in gold. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1]10] 11–[374] [2]. One line on the title page printed in red, along with character names and stage directions throughout, titles, acts and scene numbers in red in margins, title on p.186 along with references on pages 275, 276, 286, 335, 370. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, slightest of spotting to top and fore- edge, with very minor spotting to the covers along the same edges. Hammersmith, Doves Press. June 1910. Tidcombe DP20.
Mackail (J.W.) [edits] Pervigilium Veneris.

One of 150 copies on paper, with an additional 12 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[8] [1]–7 [1]. Initials printed in red throughout, along with half title and the refrain line following each verse throughout. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1911. Tidcombe DP21.
Browning (Robert). Dramatis Personae.
One of 250 copies on paper, with an additional 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–9] 10–[203] [5]. Title page initial printed in red, along with half title, titles of poems in margins, passages on p. 74, 102–105, 116, 191–192, title on p.193, last two lines of p.202. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, the faintest foxing from p.52–57. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1911. Tidcombe DP22.
Saint Francis [Beradoni] Of Assisi. Laudes Creaturarum.
One of 250 copies on paper, along with 12 copies on vellum. Small 8vo., 11.5×16.5cm, pp.[1–10]. Title page printed in red, along with the English text throughout and explicit. Full brick-red Morocco by the Doves Bindery, spine and upper board lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1911. Tidcombe DP23.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Die Leiden.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 20 copies on vellum and an additional five copies on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–9] 10–[188] [8]. Initials on p.10 and p.90 printed in red, along with second line of half title, the dates heading each entry throughout, book numbers in the margins and portions of text on p.21, p.33, p.34, p.49, p.99, p.100. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. May 1911. Tidcombe DP24.
Wordsworth (William). A Decade of Years.

One of 200 copies on paper, with an additional 12 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–9] 10–[231] [1]. Half title printed in red, along with initials, part titles and divisional titles throughout, with part numbers in red in the margins throughout and character names between p.56–70, the final word on p.224 and the first line of pp.226–230. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, with spine lettered in gilt. Fine, with very faint spotting to top, bottom and fore edges. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1911. Tidcombe DP25.
In Principio. [from Genesis].
One of 200 copies on paper, with an additional 12 copies on vellum. Small 8vo., 11.5×16.5, pp. [1–10]. Half title printed in red and a repeated half title before the colophon, along with every appearance of the text
‘And God Said’ and the preceding paragraph mark. Original full brick-red Morocco, spine and upper board lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1911. Tidcombe DP26.
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James). Catalogue 
Raisonné.
One of 250 copies on paper. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[2] [1]–12 [2]. Fourth line of title page printed in red, along with paragraph marks, section headings and numerals throughout. Original quarter linen over blue paper boards by the Doves Bindery, lettered in black on the upper cover. Fine, with a notice of publication from the Doves Press dated November 1911 loosely tipped in. Hammersmith, Doves Press. November 1911. Tidcombe DP27.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Iphigenie auf Tauris.
One of 200 copies, along with 20 copies on vellum and an additional 12 copies on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–9] 10– [111] [1]. pp. 5–9 printed in red, including half title, along section titles and character names throughout, with titles, acts and scenes in the margins throughout. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. May 1912. Tidcombe DP28.
Shakespeare (William). Anthony and Cleopatra.
One of 200 copies, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–6] 7–[142]. Two lines, including the authors name, printed in red on the title page, along with the following half-title, also characters and stage directions throughout, with titles, acts and scenes in the margins. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. October 1912. Tidcombe DP29.
Shakespeare (William). Venus and Adonis.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–7] 8–[59] [1]. Half title with two lines printed in red, along with the entire dedication page, title page initials, opening initial on p.8 and entire colophon. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, with the faintest signs of spotting to the fore-edge. Hammersmith, Doves Press. October 1912. Tidcombe DP30.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Torquato Tasso.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum and an additional 12 copies on vellum with gold initials. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–9] 10–[164] [4]. Fly-title printed in red along with entirety of ‘personen’ on p.[7], divisional titles and character names and stage directions throughout, with titles, acts and scenes in the margins. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, very faint spotting to fore-edge. Hammersmith, Doves Press. March 1913. Tidcombe DP31.
Shakespeare (William). Julius Caesar.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm, pp.[1–6] 7–[116] [4]. Half-title and initials printed in red, along with two lines of title page, divisional titles, characters and stage directions throughout, the explicit, and title, act and scene numbers in margins. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. July 1913. Tidcombe DP32.
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James) [Edits]. Amantium Irae.
One of 150 copies on paper, along with 3 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–11] 12–[143] [1]. Two lines printed in red on title page, entirety of p.10–11, p.42, p.84, p.134 and p.138–139, letter numbers, dates, divisional titles, and commentary in parenthesis throughout, along with titles, letter numbers and dates repeated in margins. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1914. Tidcombe DP33.
Shakespeare (William). Coriolanus.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 15 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–6] 7–[165] [3]. Two lines of title page printed in red, along with fly-title including two initials, part titles, characters and stage directions throughout, headings and section titles in the Errata, with titles, acts and scene numbers in margins throughout. Original limp vel- lum by the Doves Bindery. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. March 1914. Tidcombe DP34.
Shelley (Percy Bysshe). Shelley.
One of 200 copies on paper, along with 12 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–6] 7–181 [3]. Title on p.13 printed in red, along with eleven initials throughout, section titles throughout, two lines of Greek on [p.86], titles and part numbers in margins, Arabic and Roman numerals in parts IV and V, the word ‘EXPLICIT’ on p.176, and the first line of each page in the ‘Table of Years’. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. July 1914. Tidcombe DP35.
Keats (John). Keats.

One of 200 copies on paper, along with 12 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–11] 12–203 [5]. Title on [p.11] printed in red, six initials throughout, with part titles and part numbers in the margins throughout, Roman and Arabic numerals in sections II and IV, and the word ‘EXPLICIT’ on p.198. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, with a small mark (1cm) on the lower covers. Hammersmith, Doves Press. January 1915. Tidcombe DP36.
Shakespeare (William). The Rape of Lucrece.
One of 175 paper copies, along with 10 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–7] 8–[78] [2]. Initials printed in red throughout, along with dedication page, initials on title [p.7], and colophon. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. April 1915. Tidcombe DP37
Wordsworth (William). The Prelude.
One of 155 copies on paper, along with 10 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–8] 9–[302] [2]. Fourteen initials printed in red, along with title on [p.7], along with section titles throughout, book numbers and titles in the margins throughout. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine. Hammersmith, Doves Press. December 1915. Tidcombe DP38.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). Goethe.
One of 175 copies on paper, along with 10 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–4] 5–226 [10]. Fifteen initials in red, along with title on p.17, part titles, titles in the margins throughout, and the names of characters pp.168–181. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Fine, faint spotting to endpapers and fore-edge. Hammersmith, Doves Press. September 1916. Tidcombe DP38.
Cobden-Sanderson (Thomas James). Catalogue Raisonné.
One of 150 copies on paper, along with 10 copies on vellum. Small 4to., 17x24cm. pp.[1–3] 4–96. Engraved frontispiece. Section titles printed in red throughout with initials, along with page number on p.15, and section titles and numbers in the margins. Original quarter vellum over blue paper boards by the Doves Bindery, spine lettered in gilt. Very good, bottom of spine slightly bumped, sporadic spotting especially noticeable on pp.40–45 and pp.58–60. Hammersmith, Doves Press. March 1917. Tidcombe DP39.

Ephemera

The collection also includes five of the nine printed versions of correspondence between Cobden-Sanderson and three journals, The Times, The Westminster Gazette, and The Athenaeum. They were sent gratis to subscribers, and are all in their original plain brown printed wrappers
Shakespeare Punctuation.
A Letter addressed to the Editor of “The Times”. 1911. Tidcombe DPL3.
On a Passage in Julius Caesar.
A Letter addressed to the Editor of “The Times”. 1913. Tidcombe DPL4
The new Science Museum.
A Letter, with additions, addressed to the Editor of “The Times”.
 1913. Tidcombe DPL 6.
Notes on a Passage in Shelley’s Ode to Liberty. 1914. Tidcombe DPL 7.
Wordsworth’s Cosmic Poetry. 1914. [N.B. This contains One of the very few misprints in the oeuvre of the Press. Sadly it is not the word “comic” for “cosmic”, which would have amused this cataloguer, but the printing of the date 1914 as 1814. Tidombe DPL 8.

Books bound by Lyndon Lang, daughter of William Lang
Tennyson (Alfred Lord). The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

8vo., 13×19.5cm. Full red goatskin, upper and lower covers with floral gilt dentelle border of curved rules, roses and three leaf patterns, upper cover with title lettered in gilt, spine with five raised bands, double gilt ruled panels filled with gilt dots, curved rules, rose and three leaf patterns, date lettered in gilt at tail, double gilt ruled turn-ins, lower turn-in signed
‘L.L.’ and dated 1903. London, Macmillan and Co. 1902.
Stevenson (R. A. M.) Velasquez.
8vo., 13×19.5cm. Full brown goatskin, upper and lower covers with single gilt rule border and a panel formed of straight gilt rules with circles at each corner of leaf-like shapes of green onlay outlined in gilt, spine with five raised bands and double gilt ruled panels with similar leaf patterns in green onlay at each corner, title and date lettered in gilt, turn-ins with double gilt rules and leaf patterns in green onlay at each corner, upper turn-in lettered ‘W.L’ in gilt at tail, lower turn in lettered ‘L.L’ in gilt and dated 1903. London, George Bell & Sons. 1902.
The ‘W.L’ lettering at the tail of the upper turn-in suggests this binding was made by Lyndon Lang for her father, William.
Kipling (Rudyard). The Seven Seas.
8vo., 12x16cm. Later binding by Lyndon Lang in full black goatskin, upper and lower covers with single gilt rule surrounded repeating hexagonal grid of gilt rules forming a honeycomb pattern with gilt dots at each corner, each hexagon filled with a gold tool of either three leaf clover or rose, spine with five raised bands and gilt panels in the style of the hexagonal cover pattern, titled and dated in gilt, turn-ins with double gilt rules, upper turn-in lettered ‘W.M’ in gilt at tail, lower turn in signed ‘L.L.’ in gilt and dated 1903. Leipzig, Tauchnitz. 1897.
The ‘W.M’ lettering on the upper turn-in suggests that this book was bound by Lyndon Lang for her father, William.
Fitzgerald (Edward). Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
8vo., 13.5x20cm. Full red goatskin, upper and lower boards with single gilt rule border, spine with gilt panels, title lettered in gilt and two raised bands, double gilt rules on turn-ins and signed ‘L.L.’ in gilt on lower turn-in, undated. London, De La More Press. 1920.

1 In Shaw’s introduction to Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, in which he refers to an evening with his friend an eye doctor. Lang is identified as that doctor, in Shaw’s inscription in Lang’s copy, sold at auction.
2 Hodgsons, Feb 28
3 Letter to S.C. Cockerell. Published in Friends of a Lifetime London, 1940.
4 Letter from S.C. Cockerell. Published in Friends of a Lifetime London, 1940.
5 T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, Note on the Doves Press as printed in the first Doves Press Catalogue Raisonné, 1908.
6 Franklin, The Private Presses.2nd edition, Scolar Press 1991.
7 J.H. Mason. J.H. Mason. R.D.I. A selection form the Notebooks of a scholar-printer.

Mar 182018
 

Several years ago, it occurred to me that while bringing along the next generation of collectors was important, supporting and encouraging the next generation of fine press printers, book artists, and design binders was every bit as important. In many ways, the design bindings are the most challenging. Almost by definition, they are one off objects…few institutions collect bindings and private collectors who do collect bindings tend, generally, to focus on the major, established binders. I’ve been pleased to place, somewhat steadily, the work of a number of emerging binders over the past several years…several of whom got their start at the North Bennet St. School.

I have, however, been striving to get a handful of people to really consider the work of these emerging binders as *important* in time and place. That is, there is remarkably strong work being created *today* that, in a decade or two down the line, will be recognized as being the tipping point of a what it shaping up to be a major shift/evolution in the trade. It appears at least one or two institutions have begun to agree…but the breakthrough has been at last two big shows (CA and NYC) where two important private collectors and another new one embraced what is happening in the trade. The two have major bindings in their respective collections, but both really ‘got’ that not only is there amazing work being created, and that it is cost effective…but that these young binders need to be supported and encouraged in their work. Between the two fairs, I sold a total of nine (9!) bindings…six of the during the NYC fair. As a bonus, the work of both Gabby Cooksey and Jackie Scott was featured in NYC ABAA fair coverage (inArchitectural Digest and BlouinArtInfo, the later also profiling Jamie Murphy’s wonderful A Modest Proposal).

I’m very hopeful that this bodes well for things to come for this new generation of design binders…and for the growth/evolution of modern design bindings are a collecting area. As I am packing books to ship, I thought I would post images of the various bindings, representing the work of six different binders. The images are quick and dirty, but I did my best to capture these wonderful bindings. Congratulations to all these young/emerging binders…I can’t wait to see what they create next.

Jan 202018
 

Consider this a teaser, as the images do not capture just how stunning these volumes are. We are pleased to have 3 of the 5 deluxe editions (one stayed in Ireland and the other at Yale). Each of the 5 is uniquely bound in a binding reflecting issues embodied in the 1729 text, modern Ireland, and the world as a whole. We are pleased to have and to offer Abortion, Homelessness, and Religion.

If you have not seen it, the Irish Times article offers a great overview. A description of the standard and deluxe editions follows the images. I’ve also reposted some images of the standard edition and content at the very end. It is a remarkable work.

Swift, Jonathan; O’Kane, David [illus]; Carpenter, Andrew [intro]; Traynor, Jessica [poetry]. A Modest Proposal. Dublin, Ireland: The Salvage Press, 1729 [2017]. Limited Edition. Tight, bright, and unmarred. Halfbound, black leather spine and foredge, red leather spine label, gilt lettering, marbled paper boards, printed in red and black ink; matching drop-spine archival box with inlaid Irish porcelain. Imperial folio. 64pp. Illus. (b/w plates). Lettered limited edition, this being IJK. [N.B. there are 4 additional copies, i-iv, hors de commerse. Deluxe copies, 1-5, are each in a unique binding reflecting an issue confronting modern Ireland (homelessness, abortion rights, direct provision, religious persecution, and affordable housing) in “hand dyed alum tawed goatskin with reverse offset printed inlays and red calfskin borders, 22c gold hand lettered title, red handmade paper doublures with blind tooling, distressed silver endpapers with 23.5c gold leaf highlights, graphite top edge, red calfskin headbands” by Kate Holland and including an additional portfolio containing a full suite of the lithographs and a full suite of the poems. Fine in Fine Archival Box. Hardcover.

“This publishing of A Modest Proposal was produced to mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift in 1667. First printed in 1729 by Sarah Harding ‘on the Blind Key‘, Dublin.

Designed, typeset and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy with much grateful assistance from Niamh McNally, Sarah O’Neill and Phelim McGovern. The type employed is 22 point Monotype Caslon, an interesting cut quite close in character to William Caslon’s ‘Roman and Italick’ types of the late 1720s. The type was originally cast into founts by Neil Winter at The Whittington Press from matrices acquired from the Oxford University Press. The book was printed on a Western style Double Crown proofing press at Distillers Press, NCAD, Dublin. Andrew Carpenter has introduced the edition. Jessica Traynor has supplied nine new poems in response to the original text. David O’Kane has scratched the ten illustrations which have been editioned from lithographic stones by Michael Timmins at his workshop in Stoneybatter. The book has been printed on 250gsm mouldmade paper from the Zerkall Mill, Hürtgenwald, Germany, supplied by John Purcell, London. Based in Wiltshire, UK, Jemma Lewis has designed and produced the marbled papers based on marble patterns found at St. Patrick’s Cathederal where Swift was once Dean. Eleanor Swan has produced the porcelain inserts for the standard copies at her studio on the grounds of Russborough House, Co. Wicklow.” (Publisher statement)

Sep 302017
 

We have a had a run of interesting, unusual fine press and/or artists books land recently, but this stood out and I thought I’d throw up a quick overview:

Julie Rafalski, Tahu Deans and David Henningham re-enacted Cold War psychic drawing experiments in a Leipzig building that had formerly housed an East German supercomputer. They also reconstructed the computer as a set to be reconfigured and photographed.

These pictures, films, drawings and transcripts make up the content of this book. Operating like the distinct CMYK dots that merge optically to form a full-colour picture, the artists have worked together to take the viewer through corridor spaces, doctored photographs, and a psychic spying apparatus redolent of the building itself. Not every page is accessible without the use of a knife.

And because gilding the lily is always a good thing…

The books are editioned using a vector-based system so that each book is assigned a non-hierarchical relationship to the others.

Sep 252017
 

We have just received three copies(!) of Jamie Murphy’s simply brilliant edition of J. Swift’s Modest Proposal. We will soon(ish) have three(!!!) copies of the deluxe edition, too. I have trouble reducing to words just how much I adore this work, but if you will bear with the simulacra of various images, I will try to convey the exquisite power and delicacy in execution embodied in this work. As you likely know,  A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, more commonly known by its short-title, is Swift’s 1729 satirical pamphlet suggesting the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. It was a hastily printed pamphlet, modest in execution. The Salvage Press’ edition is not…it is rich in dark leather and marbled paper and monumental in size: imperial folio.

Jamie approaches the work from both a modern-situational aspect, but also from a profoundly personal one, with not one but two children with a rare genetic condition. “I had heard of A Modest Proposal years before but hadn’t read it until this period. The text seemed relevant and current – are the Irish not still in a shocking financial condition? Are we not still being plundered by absentee landlords? Are our children not about to incur the fallout from a previous generation’s mistakes? I started to think about reprinting the text. My daughter Olivia was born in 2016, presenting signs of the same genetic condition as my son. I knew they would have to be involved, and in one way this project was designed to mark their births.”

Jamie approached David O’Kane to illustrate the work, as he felt David’s preferred technique, scratching an image directly onto lithography stones, would create a rather haunting effect. Jamie’s suggesting that David use images of his children for inspiration, while challenging, nevertheless helped shape and shadow the remarkable power of the images.

David notes, “Swift’s voice was critical of those in power but also of the exploited masses and their deference to that power. In this sense it is still critically relevant today. The baby in the deanery dining table image appears to be eating her own hand, while simultaneously pointing an accusatory hand toward the viewer. The empty chairs await the hungry landlords. The question raised by the image is whether we want to pull up a seat at this horrific meal or find another way of setting out the table?”

Jamie asked Jessica Traynor to write nine new poems, each responding to the original text. Like the others, her contribution also integrated current events. As Jessica recalls, “So much history unfolded around me as I worked on the poems – the migrant crisis bled into Brexit, bled into the Citizens’ Assembly, bled into the Trump presidency, and I wrote poems in response to all of these events. But it would be impossible to write about the Ireland of the 21st century without writing about direct provision [the system of dealing with asylum seekers].”

The result is that rare Aristotelian work, with the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts. It is wry, and soul-draining, and funny, and touching, and brilliant, and challenging, and so much more…all once. You can return to it over and over and find something new in the image, prose, poetry, and/or design that you missed before. It is, simply, brilliant.

Jamie commissioned a wonderful video that explores the creation of the work and The Irish Times wrote this wonderful article on the work, rich with additional information and well worth a read. Enjoy both. We hope to have a standard at the Boston ABAA book fair, though there are fewer than 10 copies remaining. A complete description can be found here. I will almost certainly have one of the Deluxe editions, however, as they are a fair bit more dear…but that is for another time [teaser: 5 unique back-painted bindings, each reflecting a major theme]. Finally, that Jamie is barely 30 bodes well for the future. He has produced some remarkable work (see, e.g. Albert, Ernest & the Titanic)…but this hints of things to come. I, for one, cannot wait.

A Modest Proposal from ror conaty on Vimeo.

 

Sep 042017
 

Embroidered silk postcard [SS Arabic]

We’ve a wonderful collection around the golden age of ocean travel as told through menus, programs, and postcards. Built over a period of 3 decades, it covers the period from approximately 1880 to around 1930.

Highlights of the collection and important aspects include:

 

 

  • Original dining menus featuring culinary specialities of the period
  • Passenger lists serving as registers for historical documentation
  • Examples of design and style for advertising of the 19th and early 20th century
  • Documents featuring the description of innovations in transportation of the 19th and early 20th century [image gallery below]

    Embroidered silk postcard [RMS Lusitania]

Archive Encompassing the Golden Age of the Great Ocean Liners. [circa 1880-1930]. Approximately 850 items of ephemera from the golden age of ocean liner travel; including a cloth ticket wallet, numerous menus and passenger list cards from a wide variety of ships and routes, a souvenir handkerchief, deck plans, agent’s timetables etc. All in very good or better condition, minor edgewear to some of the more fragile pieces, essentially forty years or more of historical material, spanning the closing years of the 19th century and two world wars. Very Good to Near Fine.

The history of ocean liners is the history of western prosperity, the lure of emigration and the race for technology to catch up with both. The roots of passenger liners are based in 1818, when the Black Ball shipping line of New York started offering a regularly scheduled passenger service across the Atlantic and realised very swiftly that ticket prices could be increased in accordance with the level of comfort they were capable of offering. Previously buying a transatlantic ticket had relegated the hardy traveller to the same status as whatever other cargo the ship was carrying, indeed often slightly lower status; livestock and produce needed to be carefully nursed through the often perilous journeys, passengers were largely expected to fend for themselves.

The proliferation of steamships after the 1830’s, larger, faster creatures altogether; sometimes able to make the enormous journey in a little over two weeks, led to new and creative methods of utilising space and maximising profit. History changed on July 4th, 1840 when the very first ship to bear the legendary Cunard name, “The Britannia” left Liverpool on a ground (or perhaps sea) breaking 14 day journey to New York. It was for the times the very height of luxury, it travelled with a live Jersey cow on board, and chickens, to provide the passengers with fresh milk and eggs.

The advent of the tourist based pleasure cruise didn’t really take off until the 1860’s and the first cruise voyage to originate in America carried none other than Mark Twain, who characteristically immortalised the experience in “The Innocents Abroad.” By the 1880’s, a decade before the earliest items in this collection, the ocean cruise industry was in full swing; doctors regularly advised sea air and ocean voyages for the improved health of their patients, and the allure of foreign continents was proving irresistible to many as companies started offering “steerage” tickets as a very rough and ready way for the huddled masses to make their way to new opportunity.

The final years of the 19th century saw the advent of the first super liners, Germany initially led the field in creating enormous, painfully luxurious vessels that were effectively the floating luxury hotels we have come to expect today. Able to forge through any weather without hardly spilling a first class passengers cocktail, they became the preferred mode of travel for the super rich; reaching their zenith with the Cunard Line’s floating masterpieces “The Mauritania” and “The Lusitania”, the ships that required their passengers to dress for dinner and offered the romance of fine dining rooms where dinner suited elegance and mouth watering menus were accompanied by string quartets, whilst immaculately turned out stewards glided around supplying every need.

This particular collection contains representative ephemera from the largest and most luxurious lines of the period, and some of their flagship vessels, the one notable exception being, of course, The RMS Titanic, firstly because it should be remembered, Hollywood notwithstanding, that it failed, through little fault of its own, to do what transatlantic liners are supposed to do and secondly because all Titanic material is by definition mementos mori and therefore exists rather beyond its socio-industrial context…drifting more into the sargasso of legend. In the manner of such things however, the phantom of the Titanic is unavoidable and present here are pieces of material related to ships who in any number of ways were influenced and overshadowed by their relationship to the largest and most evocative maritime disaster of the time.

The period covered by this material (1896-probably the 1940’s in the case of a couple of deckplans) encompasses the successes, failures and tragedies of the largest passenger shipping lines in the world; Cunard, White Star, Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen, the Hamburg Amerika Line (notwithstanding the blanket ownership of J P Morgan’s “IMM” after the early 1900’s) and a number of others. It was a period of fierce competition in the arenas of sheer size and speed, and the degree of luxury which could be attained. Norddeutscher Lloyd’s “Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse” was built to rival Cunard’s “Campania” and “Lucania”; White Star’s “Oceanic” was put into play to combat “Kaiser Wilhelm” and so on. It was a period of fierce continental competition; at times the fabled prizes rested with the German lines, at others with the British Cunard liners and eventually the laurels passed to the American lines as more and more US ingenuity and drive was brought to bear on what was essentially the “space race” of the era. The mighty giants of the period; Mauretania, Deutschland, Lusitania, Olympia, Normandie have passed into the mists of ocean going myth, all of them are represented here; in fact, in the case of many of these pieces, this collection will represent their sole representation anywhere. Hardly any of the items in the collection were intended to last longer than the duration of a single voyage and their survival within this archive offers a unique record of the Golden Age of ocean travel. Similarly, outside of the realm of international business rivalry, shadowy political preoccupations began to affect the industry, with the British Admiralty quickly cottoning on to the concept that every ocean liner was a potential warship and subsidised lines like Cunard to build ships like “Lucania” and “Campania” in such a way that would make them swiftly convertible to battle stations in time of war. These two ships alone at that time had the largest triple expansion engines ever built, signifying the summit of achievement in that realm of technology until the inception of the turbine engine.

This archive represents a porthole into a period of unprecedented elegance, prosperity and innovation. Comprising of a tremendous number of items (we believe this to be one of the largest collections of material to come to market for a very long time), spanning a breadth of periods, lines and purposes; from beautifully chromo-lithographed menu cards to deck plans and passenger lists, souvenir programmes, handkerchiefs and fans, ticket wallets and books of postcards; an enormous and attractive collection of postcard ands promotional material spanning not only most of the world but most of the world’s significant shipping lines and a treasure trove of other ephemera and memorabilia.

The collection contains, as an example and in no particular order:

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “SS Reliance”, illustrated menu card for farewell dinner, September 1928

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “Friedrich der Grosse”, illustrated menu card, October 1900

~N.Y.K. Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha): “SS Kashima Maru”, souvenir passenger list, February 1934

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “SS Berlin”, 3 illustrated menu cards from April 1931 Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “SS Bremen” illustrated gatefold menu, June 1937

~United States Lines: “George Washington”, Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Bremen, October 1924

~Nederlandische-Amerikanische: “SS Maasdam”, Illustrated Passenger List, Rotterdam to New York, July 1894

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “Deutschland” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1901

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “Moltke”, Illustrated Passenger List, July 1903

~Norddeutscher-Lloyd Bremen: Passenger voyage timetable for sailings to North and South America, The Far East and Australia June 1929

~Red Star Line: “SS Pennland” Decorative souvenir programme for the Grand Concert, July 1927

~Pacific Mail Steamship Co.: “PMSS Manchuria” Illustrated Passenger List, Yokohama to San Francisco May 1912

~Compagnie Generale Transatlantique: “La Lorraine” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Le Havre, August 1919

~N.S. Gemeinschaft “Kraft Durch Freude” (KdF) promotional brochure advertising National Socialist excursions from Hamburg. 1930’s.

~Hamburg-Amerika Line [HAL]: Calendar of “Pleasure and Relaxation Cruises” October 1905 to June 1906

~American Line: “St. Paul” Illustrated Passenger List, Southampton to New York August 1929

~White Star Line: “SS Majestic”, Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Cherbourg, April 1931

~Hamburg-Sudamerikanische Line: “Monte Sarmiento”, Illustrated Menu/Postcard, July 1927

~Inman Line [I&I Steamship Co.]: “City of Chicago” Illustrated Passenger List, Liverpool to New York, April 1889 (with ink annotations by a passenger).

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen [NDLB]: “SS Bremen” Elaborate menu card with silk ties, August 1933

~P&O and British India Steam Navigation Co.: “P&O Cruiser Ranchi”, Illustrated Passenger List, Mediterranean, August 1926

~NDLB: “SS Bremen”, elaborate menu card for Brahms’ birthday dinner August 1933 NDLB: “SS Bremen” illustrated wine menu, April 1929

~H.A.L.: “Kronprinzessen Cecille” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to Mexico 1911

~H.A.L.: “President Grant” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1912

~NDLB: “SS Bremen” Illustrated Kosher menu card for March 1934 (!)

~H.A.L.: “Albert Ballin” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to New York, July 1926

~NDLB: “Kaiser Wilhelm” Illustrated menu card August 1903

~H.A.L.: “Pennsylvania” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to New York November 1905

~Cunard Steamship Company: “RMS Campania” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Liverpool July 1906 [also listed on timetable; Saxonia, Lucania and Carpathia]

~Cunard Steamship Co.: “RMS Campania” Illustrated Passenger List. Liverpool to New York August 1900

~Cunard Steamship Co.: “RMS Saxonia” Illustrated Passenger List, Boston to Liverpool 1903

~NDLB: Guidebook to Munich, card wraps, English text, given free aboard ship and containing an interesting potted history of the NDLB and its manifold successes.

~NDLB: Cloth ticket/travel document wallet, beige and purple, 1930’s, excellent condition. H.A.L.: A selection of on ship purchased postcards in original paper chemises.

~Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.: “RMSP Aragon” Illustrated Passenger List, Southampton to Buenos Aires, February 1911

~NDLB: “SS Berlin” embroidered souvenir handkerchief depicting the liner at full steam. NDLB: “Grosser Kurfurst” Illustrated menu card, (some loss to upper edges), March 1904.

~Pacific Mail Steamship Co. “SS Manchuria” Illustrated Passenger List, San Francisco-Far East Circuit, March 1912. Heavily annotated by passenger.

~NDLB: “Friedrich der Grosse” Illustrated menu cards, July 4th 1911, July 5th 1911 NDLB: “Kronprinz Wilhelm” Illustrated menu card, July 1903

~NDLB: “Grosser Kurfurst” Illustrated menu card, September 1901

~Cie. Gle. Transatlantique: “La Provence” Illustrated menu card, beautiful art nouveau design, August 1910

~NS Gemeinschaft “Kraft durch Freude”: “Oceana” Illustrated itinerary card with exhortation from the Nazi party “We wish you a happy homecoming, Heil Hitler!” Italian voyage January 1938

~NDLB: Luggage label with string for a stateroom on the “Adolf Vinnen” in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer of New Jersey. Hamburg-New York 1912

~H.A.L.: “SS Graf Waldersee” Illustrated Passenger List. New York to Hamburg July 1902 H.A.L.: “SS Normannia” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Hamburg September 1894

~Great White Fleet: “SS Heredia” Caribbean Cruise of Gulf Park College leaving New Orleans March 1928, elaborate illustrated menu card.

~Tokyo Kisen Kaisha: Illustrated Information Brochure circa 1917

~H.A.L.: “Albert Ballin” Illustrated and elaborate bell shaped multi leaved menu and concert programme August 1935

~RMS Titanic: 2 commemorative cards (1987 and 1991) sent at sea from the resting place of the great liner; stamped with all vessels present and the sigil of ~Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute with hand written co-ordinates of the wreck site and the details of the Russian Research Vessel “Akademyk Keldysh” which carried the Mir I and Mir II submersibles.

~H.A.L.: “Graf Waldersee” Illustrated menu card, August 1900 H.A.L.: “Pennsylvania” Illustrated menu card, February 1901

~H.A.L.: A group of four further Illustrated menu cards from the “Pennsylvania” during a voyage in January-February 1901

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: Large format photograph of the liner “SS Normandie” under construction noting that the vessel was 1020” feet long. In 1935 the ~“Normandie” was the largest and fastest passenger vessel on the seas. She is still cited as being the most powerful steam turbo-electric powered ship ever built.

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha: “SS Fushimi Maru” Illustrated menu card, May 1915

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha: “SS Awa Maru” Illustrated menu card, May 1915

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha:”SS Tenyo Maru” Illustrated menu card, September 1916

~NDLB: A selection of decorative menu cards in card chemise for a voyage by the “SS Berlin”

~Various: A selection of folding souvenir deck plans for ships in the Red Star, Cie Gle Transatlantique and United States Lines.

~NDLB: Beautiful illustrated menu card “SS Columbus”, April 1925. At that time the “Columbus” was the flagship of NDLB and was notable for being almost permanently on hire to Thomas Cook and for being the first liner to have its own swimming pool on deck.

~NDLB: “SS Koln” Illustrated Passenger List, November 1902, Bremen-Galveston

~NDLB: “SS Amerika” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1906

~NDLB: “SS Havel” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Bremen, November 1894

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “MS Lafayette” Illustrated Passenger List, Le Havre to New York September 1937

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “MS Ile De France” Illustrated Passenger List, Le havre to new York, September 1937. The Ile de France was the first refrigerated ocean liner and was thus the first vessel to bring fresh French Brie to America.

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: A selection of 6 Illustrated Cruise Itineraries from the “SS Normandie” [1930’s]

~Cunard Line: Notepaper from “Mauretania”, “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elizabeth” Cie Gle Transatlantique: Single sheet not on “Normandie” notepaper

NDLB: “SS Columbus” Illustrated Menu Cards, July 1937 [2]

~Cunard White Star: “RMS Laconia” Illustrated menu card, June 1937. The “Laconia” was, like it’s previous namesake in WW1, sunk by a submarine in World War 2 on September 12th 1942. The aftermath of the sinking, during which over 1600 people died, became known as “The Laconia Incident.” Kapitanleutnant Werner Hartenstein of the U-156 surfaced after the sinking in order to pick up survivors when he became aware that non-combatants were on board, he requested assistance from U Boat High Command in Germany and several U Boats entered the area flying red cross flags and signalling that a rescue operation was under way. The U-Boat convoy, fore-decks laden with survivors, lifeboats in tow and still flying Red Cross flags headed towards a neutral exchange point. Unfortunately, a US B-24 Liberator, despite the resistance of it’s crew and the frantic radio signals of Hartenstein was ordered to attack the U-Boats. The U-Boats were forced to dive and abandon the survivors, some of whom were later picked up by Vichy French naval ships. Admiral Donitz, as a direct result of the Laconia Incident rescinded any previous directions to do with rescuing survivors of enemy ships. Hartenstein and his crew were killed a few months later.

NDLB: “SS Europa” 3rd Class Illustrated menu card June 1931. Very striking. Cunard Line: Atlantic Interlude, cruise brochure 1930’s

~Cunard Line: “RMS Aquitania” card booklet from the 1920’s. Aquitania was the last four-funnel steamer, and noted as being one of the most beautiful ships afloat, and was the longest serving commercial ocean liner at the time of her retirement in 1950

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “La Provence” fold out cutaway diagram of the liner in card wraps showing many of the joyous luxuries available on board.

~H.A.L.: Brochure for first class travel on the line, 1930’s

~H.A.L. Winter Service Timetable 1896-1897 advertising voyages on the “August Victoria”, “Columbia”, “Normannia” and “Furst Bismarck”

~Raymond Whitcomb Cruises: advertising taking the “Normandie to Rio” 1939

~Tokyo Kisen Kaishu: “SS Kitano Maru” Illustrated menu card, december 1936 (some underlining by passenger)

~T.K.K.: “Kitano Maru” Illustrated menu card for farewell dinner February 1937 autographed by passengers.

~T.K.K.: 2 Blank illustrated menu cards with Kabuki and Samurai designs from the TKK 1930’s design blueprint.

~T.K.K.: “Miyazaki Maru” Illustrated menu card, march 1916. 

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Jul 242017
 

I have had the great pleasure of working with Gabby Cooksey since she burst forth from North Bennet School and began inflicting her genius upon the world. I had the great pleasure of placing her first binding in Univ. of Virginia’s Special Collections and the greater pleasure of watching her explore, evolve, and expand with each new work. I have said since I saw her first work that she makes design decisions as a new, now young, binder that I would expect from one with decades under her belt… Part of this is to NBS’s credit, but much has to do with Gabby’s profoundly subtle and sophisticated way of looking at her projects and finding elegant solutions at nearly every turn…

It was not long before she branched out and began writing text, creating art, and printing all elements of some projects. Thus we have today’s gem: The Book of Penumbra, of which Gabby writes,

“Death has always fascinated me because it happens to all of us yet no one talks about it. I wanted to see what other cultures personified death as through myths and legends. The gods in this book are very hushed and for some, even if you speak the name, you’ll be cursed. I wanted this book to be shadows, to be played in the light. I chose a delicate paper so one could see through to the page behind it. The text is in all sorts of shapes because I wanted each story to represent the god being told about. For instance, Sedna is in the shape of drowning, Anubis is his eye, Mac is a pit with someone at the bottom. The borders are all plants, roots, and things found on the earth. Some represent death like the poppy, and the yew tree.”

Completed in an edition of 23, bound in wraps, and housed in a box with an inlaid coffin, it is a beautiful bit of work. As she is seldom content with ‘exquisite’, I received a package out of the blue and found a one-off art binding of the book with seven skulls suspended by gold in the cut-through front board (insert above). Always pushing, always expanding…ever brilliant. I am always excited about what she will produce next. Explore the book below…

Jul 182017
 

In November of 1897 the Library began a program of daily readings for the blind in a special “pavilion for the blind” complete with its own library. In 1913 Congress directed the American Printing House for the Blind to begin depositing embossed books in the Library, and in 1931 a separate appropriation was authorized for providing “books for the use of adult blind residents of the United States.” [LC]

This Act was amended in 1934 to include sound recordings (talking books), and expanded again later to include children, music, and ultimately to include anyone with physical limitations that prevent reading regular print. This program is important to me personally, because of what a remarkable effect it had on my grandmother’s life when she, a lifelong avid reader, lost the ability to read to macular degeneration. The program is still thriving…now sending out books to the vision impaired on flash drives.

There were few record players in homes in the early twentieth century, and thus between 1935 and approximately 1942 the Talking Book project produced about 23,000 record players (at a cost of approximately $1.2 million). While funding from the WPA dried up in 1942, the program continued until 1951, when the Foundation stopped producing its own record players because they were now readily available to the general public. It is this period that is particularly interesting for me, as it is the period where critical components of the record players used were produced by the company my in-laws’ owned and operated until their retirement (though this program far predates their ownership).

Between the mid-1940s to the mid 1950s, Bowen and Company produced the guts for several models of the record players that were provided to clients of the Talking Book project. On a recent visit, my FiL said he had something interesting for me and proceeded to hand over a Model 9C record player and a packing case filled not only with albums, but with a remarkable trove of the technical specs and schematics for the machines design and evolution…as well as some supporting material and, interestingly, a copy of a late advert, when the company had been given permission to sell the players to the general public. It is unusual to find one of the early players in any condition…to find one like this (with many extra needles) and records and (amazingly) a pile of the design/evolution documentation pretty much makes my month. Enjoy the huge pile of images to follow [photo credit to Mary Pennington]

May 092017
 

We haven’t been quiet, just busy with all these new acquisitions and cataloging. Please peruse our latest occult / esoterica catalog n.2 under the catalogs tab.

Some of the featured new items:

 

Apr 242017
 

For those who have seen the proto-type for Maureen Cummins’ newest work we were showing in CA and NYC, we are pleased to say that the work is complete and ready. Maureen just forwarded the following prospectus, which summarizes the work quite perfectly:

The/rapist is an investigation into the gendered history of psychosurgery, as illustrated by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972). A Professor of Neurology with no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman popularized the pre-frontal lobotomy, an operation in which nerve connections to and from the frontal lobes—the seat of human emotion, creativity, willpower, and imagination—are severed. A self-styled showman who drove ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets, rode around in a “lobotomobile,” and conducted a 1953 tour dubbed “Operation Ice-Pick,” Freeman freely admitted that his work created a “surgically induced childhood,” with many “failed outcomes.”

It is a history that raises numerous and disturbing questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the 3,500 or more patients that Freeman operated on, twice as many were female, many depressed or suicidal housewives. Even now, electroshock—Freeman’s favored method of anesthesia—is applied to female patients two to three times as often as males.

In the opening pages of the book, Cummins uses the analogy of physical rape to suggest the way in which psychosurgery became a form of violence-against-women (and men) perpetuated in the name of medical progress. The concept is textually and visually reinforced as the reader pages through the book: the title, “The Rapist” morphs into the word, “Therapist?” while a laser-cut hole bores through the book, penetrating silkscreened images of patients’ heads. These headshots, “before-and-after” photographs that Freeman used to document his work, are re-contextualized, with lines of typography mimicking blindfolds, reclaiming for these patients a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. Throughout the book, the artist’s mordant sense of humor is in evidence: The name Freeman transforms into “Free Man,” while found images—everything from advertising cuts of arrows and pointing fingers to reproductions of Freeman’s ice picks—serve as illustrations, providing ironic counters to the subject matter, often—as with the sunburst, moon, and encircling question marks—cleverly incorporating the hole.

Constructed entirely out of aluminum, The/rapist is inspired by the cold, hard surfaces of medical clipboards and equipment, as well as by Freeman’s actual tools, viewed by the artist in the Freeman/Watts collection at GWU, where she conducted her initial research. Pages of the book are laser-cut, burnished on one side, printed with multiple layers of text and imagery, “dimpled” to prevent scratching and wear, then mounted within rings to a sturdy baseboard. The text is printed in Frutiger, a classic mid-century sans-serif typeface. Images reproduced in the book are 19th century engravings, handwritten notes and text, as well as graphs and headshots from Freeman’s 1950 textbook Psychosurgery: In the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain. The book is housed in a burnished aluminum box with a screwed-down aluminum title plate. For exhibition purposes, copies can be propped up vertically, with the backboard acting as a stand, or positioned with the pages fanned out in a pleasing sculptural form.

Detailed images are available upon request. As you may or may not know, the prices for Maureen’s work step when a certain number of sales have been hit. As this is an edition of 40, we encourage you to let us know as soon as reasonably possible should you wish to add it to your collection.

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