We are very pleased to offer the first of several lists of recent acquisitions in this season of harvest and bounty. The following list contains the fruits of our labors in the area of fine printing and illustrated books, reflecting a fair amount of range and variety—from Cranbrook to Janus; from Jewish fables illustrated with 16th century woodcuts, to a modern rendering of five psalms illustrated with colorful silkscreens.
As we have further refined our specialty areas in recent years, we have found ourselves moving further and further away from literature and first editions. Recently, during one of our periodic sweeps of the shelves to check and readjust pricing for a book fair, we alighted upon the idea of offering a list of our literary stock, reflecting deep price reductions. We are therefore pleased to present this selection of literature, from Ambrose Bierce to Tennessee Williams.
The subject of this e-catalogue is the examination of Eric Gill's considerable talents in the book arts. From his work for Count Kessler at the Cranach Press and Robert Gibbings at the Golden Cockerel Press, to the small communities he formed at Ditchling with Hilary Pepler, Gill's prolific output was enduring and his influence on future artists immense. His biographer, Fiona MacCarthy, concludes that he was “a most extraordinary person,” which dovetails perfectly with something Gill himself wrote in 1934: “Art itself has become an extraordinary thing—the activity of peculiar people—people who become more and more peculiar as their activity becomes more and more extraordinary.”
We close out our series of lists featuring books-about-books with a nod to the self-referential nature that these works tend to take. The preservation of stories about printing, typography, bookbinding, and book collecting lies at the core of this selection, covering a variety of bookish worlds, from the booksellers imagined in Henry Morris’s San Serriffe, to the Typestickers of Los Angeles. The high level of production also befits the texts they contain: consider George Parker Winship’s address on William Caxton, delivered to the Club of Odd Volumes in 1908 and printed at the Doves Press; or the indulgently extravagant entrée into the world of books and book collecting that is The Colophon—available here as a nearly complete run and with the first part in original slipcases.
Dipping our toes for a second time into the refreshing waters of books-about-books, we delve a little into the notion of book decoration. At first blush, the most obvious landing point is the illustrations a book contains, as the illustrated book offers an additional window into the interpretation of a text. Here, our selection covers some vast ground: from ukiyo-e to Edward Gorey. Diving a little deeper, one can also look at the decoration of the object itself as a form of interpretation—thus, we have included several notable works on bookbinding. And because ownership also helps to place books within a contextual framework, in addition to being another form of adornment, you will find a few books about bookplate artists as well.
For the month of August, we have prepared a series of short lists that show the great diversity within the area of books-about-books. We’re kicking off the series with a look at the ways in which books incorporate the element of bonus content—after all, most people enjoy a good surprise.