Weimar: Cranach Press, 1938; 1939. Single leaf, plus 18ff. booklet. Proof of the first page of Robinson Crusoe, printed by Cranach Press in black and red, with two woodcut illustrations by Edward Gordon Craig. The proof is inscribed, "To D[aphne Woodward] from EGC 1938 Xmas," and further states, "Printed in Weimar - at Ct Kessler's press by Cole." Another hand has noted, "Rare proof of the 4th trial." Together with: a handmade booklet created for poet and playwright Percy MacKaye by Craig. The first page is inscribed "For Percy MacKay from EGC. February 1939. 12 of the Robinsons - Big & small 50 have been already cut - should be double this number at least." Thereafter follows eleven pages containing twelve tipped-in proof illustrations in various states printed on several different kinds of paper. Each woodcut is inscribed by Craig to McKaye and dated, with the state number, limitation, and copy number. A few of the illustrations also include Craig's handwritten notes, such as his statement that the two initials pasted on one page will be joined by fifteen or twenty more throughout the finished book. He also mentions that an unlettered extra copy of a woodcut showing a ship buffeted by waves "needs still more cutting."
For decades, Edward Gordon Craig nurtured an interest in Daniel Defoe's story about the castaway Robinson Crusoe. Craig's copy of the book was well-read and heavily annotated, with the phrase "My beloved book" written by him on one of the pages, clearly revealing his feelings for the story. He created sketches and even cut numerous blocks for an illustrated edition of the book he hoped to one day publish. After the success of the Cranach Press Hamlet, for which Craig contributed the illustrations, he and the Press's Count Harry Kessler began to develop an edition of Robinson Crusoe, using the illustrations Craig had assembled over the years. They got so far as to print trial proofs of the first page of the book, set in the Hamlet type Edward Johnston had designed, before World War II derailed their plans. The illustrated edition of Robinson Crusoe for which Craig had so long prepared was not published until 1979 by the Basilisk Press. These proofs offer a fascinating glimpse into the long process of bringing Craig's dream to fruition and his excitement to put his mark on his "beloved book." Booklet wrapped in blue handmade paper and sewn with green string; housed in original mailing envelope, postmarked 1939. Left edge of some of the proofs show glue residue; otherwise, both the proof sheet and booklet are in fine condition. Item #25848
(Franklin, Fond of Printing, pp. 22, 26, 84).