Wednesday, July 26, 2017

313. The 2017 Alphabet: K

K is for Kinde.

Kinde are her answeres,
But her performance keeps no day;
Breaks time, as dancers
From their own musicke when they stray.

Thomas Campion, Fifty Songs (Vale Press, 1896)
For some initials in the books of the Vale Press, Charles Ricketts made multiple designs, such as 'A', 'I' and 'T'. Up to ten variants of those were drawn. For other letters only one design was done, such as 'Q', 'R' and 'K'. 

Some letters do not occur as initials at all, such as 'X' and 'Z'.

'K' is one of those initials that was used for more than one book, but for which Ricketts didn't reconsider the original design. The initial 'K' appeared in three Vale Press books, the first one being Thomas Campion's Fifty Songs (1896). It is part of an incomplete alphabet of initials decorated with ivy. The alphabet was not completed as Ricketts, of course, never designed initials that he had no use for. There seems to be no relation between the text of Campion's poem and the floral decorations of this initial letter.

The 'K' design was used once in this book, twice in Henry Vaughan's Sacred Poems (1897), and the last appearance of this initial was on the first two text pages of the Vale Press edition of Robert Browning's Dramatic Romances and Lyrics (1899).

Robert Browning, Dramatic Romances and Lyrics (Vale Press, 1899)
In some cases the initial has to compete (as has the blackness of the text lines) with the text on the other side of the paper, and in some cases the richness of the initial seems to be complemented by the intricate design of the border on the preceding page, and its impression into the paper, as is the case on page 6 of Robert Browning's Dramatic Romances and Lyrics.

The book as a unity is a complex phenomenon.