Wednesday, August 31, 2016

266. Romeo & Juliette at Auction

Online auctions have taken their place in the antiquarian book market for some years now, and one of the more successful auction places is Catawiki. The site, founded by a Dutch comic book collector and a developer, started in a small town in the Netherlands in 2008 as an online compendium of collector's catalogues.

In 2011, the first Catawiki online auctions were hosted, and the site has now grown to quite another level. Comic books, or books, are still the subject of weekly auctions, but the real money comes from other sources, such as the 'Esquel meteorite', the 'Jaw of a T-rex', a 'Macallan Anniversary Malt (over 50 years old)', an oil painting by Aristarkh Lentulov, and a 1960 Porsche 356.

Every now and then a book designed by Charles Ricketts pops up. In this week's auction a solitary volume of the Vale Shakespeare is offered for sale.

Photo of opening pages of The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliette
as published on the Catawiki site
The seller is a 'pro', according to the meagre information supplied by Catawiki, but that is not a guarantee for excellent photos or complete descriptions. The terminology in this book's description cannot be considered to be that of a professional antiquarian bookseller. Anyhow, Catawiki originally contained a lot of offers by private collectors; these days second hand booksellers seem to form the majority of the suppliers.

What surprised me, was that within a day after the launch of this week's auctions, two bidders had placed their bids, running quickly from €1 to €50, where it has remained for some time now. 

Catawiki, lot 6, auction 3 September 2016

Usually, a few hours or even minutes before the auction stops, the figures start to move again, and more bidders try their luck. We will see what happens this week.

Currently, on Abebooks, a copy is for sale for $150.

Note, 4 September 2016
On 2 September 14 bids quickly followed each other, bringing the price up from €50 to €143.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

265. A Wilde Book from the Woodring Collection

The Carl Woodring collection is at the Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX, and contains his excellent collection of Ricketts and Shannon material. A photo of his copy of Oscar Wilde's Poems (1891) was published online.

Oscar Wilde, Poems (1891) [Rice University]
The 'What's in Woodson'  blog that  highlights new and interesting collections, records, memorabilia, and rare books located at the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library,  wrote about the collection.

The lower right corner of the front cover has been bumped, and the spine at the top seems to have been damaged as well. Good copies of this binding have survived, but they are quite rare. The colour is vulnerable to light, the corners are fragile, the gold may darken or disappear.

This is No. 91 of 200 copies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

264. A Commemorative Exhibition of Charles Ricketts

As I announced in May (blog 250), we will publish a small book about Ricketts's mother written by J.G.P. Delaney and Corine Verney: Charles Ricketts's Mysterious Mother. The date of publication for this moving and surprising story is 1 October 2016. That day, we will celebrate Ricketts's birthday, 150 years ago, on 2 October 1866.

There is more.

The same day, the Museum of the Book (Museum Meermanno) in The Hague will be the venue for the opening of a small exhibition about Charles Ricketts as an illustrator of the Parables and of the poems in prose of Oscar Wilde.

Charles Ricketts, 'The Good Samaritan' (wood engraving) in a vellum copy of the Vale Press edition
of The Parables from Our Lord (1903)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

263. Dust-Jackets on Ricketts's books (6): The Pageant

In November 1895 a first issue of the new magazine The Pageant was published. Apart from a limited edition (large paper format, 150 copies), there was an ordinary edition. The books were not issued in a dust-wrapper (as far as we know). 

However, a year later, the ordinary copies of the second issue for 1897 were provided with a remarkable dust-jacket. It has been the subject for an earlier blog: 77. A Paper Wrapper for A Pageant.

Gleeson White,
design for
The Pageantfor 1897

In his new book on dust-jackets, Mark R. Godburn doesn't mention this dust-jacket, and he doesn't mention other dust-jackets printed in colour before 1900. G. Thomas Tanselle, in his Book-Jackets, Their History, Forms and Use (2011) had selected this dust-jacket for a comment on the name of the designer. He argued that it was uncommon to mention the name of the designer of the jacket in the book, and that up till then, there had been no reason to mention names of designers, as the jackets did not bear traces of the work of a designer: ‘Nineteenth-century jackets are not normally associated with specific designers (understandably, given their generally sparse layout), but sometimes the designer can be identified: for example, The Pageant of 1897 (published by Henry & Co. of London) notes on the leaf following the title-leaf, “The outer wrapper is designed by Gleeson White.”' (p. 57).

The other reason to discuss this particular dust-jacket was the terminology used in the book and in advertisements: 'The term for what we now call a “jacket” was not yet settled by the 1890s. An advertisement for a boxed series in Publishers’ Weekly, 43 (28 January 1893), 207 [...] was said to be available in “cloth slip wrappers, each book in a cloth box.” “Outer wrapper,” rather than “slip wrapper,” was used in The Pageant of 1897’ [...].’ (p. 76, note 99).

Godburn and Tanselle do not single out the dust-jacket for its remarkable coloured design. Most illustrated dust-jacket before this one, had an illustration from the book printed in black on the front, and sometimes the paper wrapper itself was of a coloured paper.

In this case of The Pageant, the design had been printed in red, white and green on brown paper, after a design by Gleeson White. A note to the Foreword attested to this. The wrapper had been printed by Edmund Evans, as the foreword itself noticed. Evans (1826-1905) was the foremost colour printer of the latter half of the nineteenth century, working with Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott.

By 1896/1897, when the jacket for The Pageant was being produced, he had retired, leaving the company to his sons, and moved to the Isle of Wight, but he continued to work together with some artists, making wood-engravings for their work. There is no mark of the engraver on the dust-jacket of The Pageant.

Gleeson White,
design for
The Pageant for 1897
(front cover)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

262. Dust-Jackets on Ricketts's books (5): Poems Dramatic and Lyrical, Second series

In last week's blog a copy of Lord de Tabley's Poems Dramatic and Lyrical (1893) and its dust-jacket were shown. De Tabley's book was such a success (reprinted twice) that a second series of poems was published with the same title, Poems Dramatic and Lyrical. Second Series (February 1895). The book was advertised as being 'Uniform in binding with the first series'.

For this copy another dust-jacket was used than for copies of the first series. (By the way, whether there were any dust-jackets for the second and third editions of the first series has not been determined.) The dust-jacket was a plain semi transparent paper wrapper.

Dust-jacket for Lord De Tabley's Poems Dramatic and Lyrical. Second Series (1895)
Parts of the dust-jacket were cut out to show the title and author's name. This was regular practice in bookshops. The binding was (largely) protected, and the green cloth was not affected by light, and still the buyers could easily recognize the book.

Examples of torn and cut jackets can be found in Mark R. Godburn's recent book Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets (2016) (see pp. 118-121). In some cases jackets were torn in the bindery to assist packing of multi volume sets of books, in other cases it was done by sales assistants.

Dust-jacket for Lord De Tabley's Poems Dramatic and Lyrical. Second Series (1895) [detail]

The jacket for the second series of poems by De Tabley is an example of the second type, that was cut in the shop. A copy is now in a private collection.