England: (c. 1957). Folio. (44)ff. An astonishing manuscript, featuring fourteen original drawings and gouache paintings mounted on heavy gray paper. They depict a range of toys and their contexts, from the familiar teddy bear to baubles from as far afield as Javanese shadow puppets and Hopi Indian dolls. The text begins with an unfinished title page within a border of yellow squares. Then follows eighteen manuscript leaves inked in black, in which the author/artist, Avril Henry, provides a psychological, emotional, and anthropological history of toys. The volume ends with a three-leaf index to the illustrations, penned in red.
Avril Henry (1935-2016) was an English scholar who began as a teacher and illustrator in London, later going on to study the culture of medieval England at Oxford. Her interest in material history led her to a professorial position at the University of Exeter for over three decades. The present volume marks the burgeoning of that interest, undertaken almost certainly as an art school project. It is reasonable to believe that she herself completed the binding of full tan morocco stamped with dozens of gilt stars at the upper cover and spine, along with heavy purple endpapers stamped with yellow squares. Light wear to covers, else a fine and compelling unique work. Item #29779