Wednesday, July 21, 2021

521. Ricketts's Design for Dedicated (1914)

After Edith Cooper died, her partner, Katherine Bradley, collected Edith's poems (written from 1899 onwards). They were published in August 1914 under their joint pseudonym Michael Field as Dedicated. Charles Ricketts designed the linen binding, of which the front cover and spine are decorated. The original design drawings have been preserved in The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow.


Charles Ricketts, two drawings for the binding of
Michael Field, Dedicated (1914)
Location: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

While some critics recognise a baptismal font on the cover and on the back two connected rings, I think we see a fountain (on the cover) and a thyrsus - a staff topped with a pine cone - and  two laurel wreaths (on the spine). See my earlier blog about Three Spine Designs by Charles Ricketts.

The drawings are (as usual) larger than the book: 28.8 by 22.7 cm - the book measures 19,8 by 13 cm. They were copied and photographed (the image then reduced in size) for the making of a brass block to stamp the design on the binding.

The drawings have inscriptions such as: 'cut same size as drawing. Photograph this | onto the brass. Do not copy scratchy workmanship', and 'cut this quite clean | do not imitate scratches | of pen in letters etc'.

The blockmakers kept to the brief, sometimes making small necessary improvements and sometimes not.

In his drawing, Ricketts placed small acorns in the far corners, but he forgot the acorn in the top left corner. This has been corrected.

Charles Ricketts (designer), binding of Michael Field, Dedicated (1914)

For the coffered ceiling above the fountain (which is in a niche or a chapel) Ricketts drew a pattern of five rows with different ornaments in each row. In Ricketts's design the ornaments in each row appear to be identical, but they are all individually drawn and slightly different from oen another. During the processing for the block, the ornaments per row were standardised. Whether this was the intention or not is impossible to say, but in the Vale Press ornamental papers that Ricketts designed, such minor variations were maintained.

The support for the ceiling is represented by vertical lines. The lines in the middle do not connect at the same height at the top (lower on the right). 

Charles Ricketts (designer), binding of Michael Field, Dedicated (1914)

 
Also, they seem to protrude through the floor. This has been retained in the block for the binding.

Charles Ricketts (designer), binding of Michael Field, Dedicated (1914) 

The handle of the thyrsus on the back of the book is a little too neatly copied. Ricketts's pen faltered twice and the lines are now interrupted in two places. This was clearly not Ricketts's intention.

Thanks to the digitisation of objects in museums, libraries and archives researchers can study Ricketts's book designs with new interest and scrutiny.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

520. An Early Caricature by Charles Ricketts

As an artist, Charles Ricketts was not easily satisfied, and on one of his moves, he threw a lot of his youthful work into the bin. Shannon did the same - it was the result that mattered, not the sketches or the way to get there. (Friends sometimes kept those drawings.) In an album in the British Museum one finds a photograph of a very early sketch, said to be by Ricketts. (The museum number is 1962,0809.2.55). The drawing is dated 27/2/1882. Ricketts was not yet sixteen then.

Charles Ricketts, photograph of a caricature dated 27 February 1882
[Image: British Museum, London: 1962,0809.2.55.
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]
(with permission of the executors of the Charles Ricketts estate,
Leonie Sturge-Moore and Charmain O'Neil)

The drawing measures 75 by 65 mm, and it depicts 'a man in silhouette, whole-length profile to left' (quote from the catalogue). It seems to be a young man. There is a caption written in a speech bubble and the words are hard to decipher, but I think it says: 'I never wish anything but I demand'.

It may be a student joke, a sketch made out of boredom or discontent. The image has not been published before.

The original will probably have been thrown away. The photo was saved, and came via Robert Steele to Riette Sturge Moore, who donated the album to the BM in 1962.

Even when he was older, Ricketts continued to make caricatures. There is, for instance, a self-portrait of him slumped in a chair, asleep after a dinner where he obviously overate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

519. Milton's Early Poems in a Pigskin Binding (2)

A fortnight ago I reported on a Sybil Pye binding for a copy of the first Vale Press publication, John Milton's Early Poems (April 1896). [Read more about this special binding.] The new owner has sent me some images to prove that the binding was made by Sybil Pye.

Marianne Tidcombe wrote: 'Her bindings are signed with a monogram stamp' ['SP'], 'and the date, inside the lower cover, nearly always towards the top of the fore-edge turn-in.'(*) That is indeed the case, only the date is missing here.

John Milton, Early Poems (1896). Binding signed by Sybil Pye

The inscription linking this book to the collector who commissioned the binding is as follows: 'from the books of Arthur & Margaret Gillett | 21.4. 1962'.

John Milton, Early Poems (1896). Inscription

The titles of quite a few Vale Press books are uncertain. The title on the binding often differs from the title on the opening pages (there are rarely any actual title pages), which in turn differs from the title in the colophon.

The Milton edition shows the same diversity.
Title on spine: MIL- | TON | EARLY | POEMS
Opening pages: MILTON | EARLY POEMS
Colophon: HERE end the Early Poems of John Milton.
Prospectus: THE EARLY POEMS OF JOHN MILTON
Bibliography (1904): THE EARLY POEMS OF JOHN MILTON

Pye's binding shows different variants again:
Title on spine: EARLY | POEMS OF | MILTON
Title on front and back cover: THE EARLY POEMS OF MILTON

(*) Marianne Tidcombe, Women Bookbinders 1880-1920 (Oak Knoll Press & The British Library, 1996), page 149.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

518. Sea-Folk, A Lithograph by Charles Shannon

Charles Shannon produced lithographs from 1889 onwards, but there were years when he did not work in this medium. The first period of 54 lithographs ran until 1897 (one was published only a year later), after which he did not devote himself to lithography again until 1904. The second period lasted much shorter, from 1904 to 1909, and resulted in 29 lithographs.

The last period began during the First World War, in 1917, and ended in 1920. After twelve more lithographs, Shannon abandoned this medium. (Other lithographs were designed, by the way, but they never got beyond the trial stage. There is a lithograph from 1888, predating the first one, from which four proofs were pulled; no Shannon lithographs dated after 1920 are known to exist.)

In his catalogue, The Lithographs of Charles Shannon 1863-1937 (published 1978), Paul Delaney  only reproduced lithographs from the first period.

Charles Shannon, 'Sea-Folk' (1897)
[Image: British Museum, London: 
1899,0913.1.
[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]

The last lithograph from the first period is 'Sea-Folk' (1897). It is not the largest lithograph Shannon ever made, but it is the one with the most figures - I think I can count twenty-five people. In the 1902 catalogue of Shannon's lithographs (with an introduction by Ricketts) the scene is described as follows:

Groups of girls and children are playing in the wash of the sea. The background is filled with a breaking wave. Fifty-six proofs exist printed in green, in black, and in blue.
(Charles Ricketts, A Catalogue of Mr Shannon's Lithographs, no. 54, p. 31).

The British Museum owns a copy in green (illustrated here). Copies in black ink look very dark indeed, as if the scene is a nocturnal one. The British Museum has an impression in black after the cancellation of the plate.

Charles Shannon, 'Sea-Folk' (1897)
[Image: British Museum, London: 
1938,0804.30.
[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]


The variety of actions and postures is maximised within a horizontal strip in the centre of the image. Above this, the foam heads of the surf are depicted. In the foreground, the low water on the coast can be seen. Some figures are sitting on the sand in the shallow water and are drawn almost entirely in white line.

Charles Shannon, 'Sea-Folk' (1897)
[Image: British Museum, London: 
1899,0913.1.
[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]


Children play with a fish that they have apparently caught, raising it triumphantly to the sky. Another group of children try to catch another fish in the shallow water.


Charles Shannon, 'Sea-Folk' (1897)
[Image: British Museum, London: 
1899,0913.1.
[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]

One wonders, of course, if the fish would not have fled long ago in the face of this crowd of children amusing themselves so loudly; Shannon probably combined several observations at the beach.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

517. Milton's Early Poems in a Pigskin Binding

On 17 June, at Dominic Winter Auctions three lots of Vale Press books were sold, the last one being a copy of John Milton's Early Poems (1896), the first book of the Vale Press. The catalogue description states its condition: 'light toning to a couple of leaves, light spotting to endpapers, ink inscription to front endpaper, original cream blindstamped cloth gilt, gilding to spine rubbed in places'. The second part of the description incorrectly asserts that the copy was still in the original publisher's binding. I previously wrote about the variants of the publisher's binding for this book in blog 244, [more information including illustrations can be found in Binding Variants of the First Vale Press Book].

The picture in the catalogue Children’s & Illustrated Books, Private Press & Fine Bindings, Modern First Editions clearly shows a completely different binding.

John Milton, Early Poems (1896)

The provenance was based on an ink inscription: 'From the books of Arthur & Margaret Gillett, 21.4. 1962'. And, the catalogue continued: 'Probably Margaret Clark Gillett (1878-1962) botanist and social reformer, noted for advocating for women and children held in concentration camps after the Boer War.’ (Information taken from Wikipedia.)

Although her name does not appear in the index of Marianne Tidcombe's Women Bookbinders 1880-1920, it is nevertheless this essential reference work that can provide information on the name of the bookbinder.

Appendix 3 lists all Sybil Pye's bindings and the Vale Press Milton appears twice. Number 27 describes a bookbinding from 1918, made for G.E. Chatfield, and in style it is exactly what one imagines a Sybil Pye binding to be: 'White pigskin, inlaid with red and black pigskin, and gold-tooled'.

The Gillett binding has no inlays and is described as number 12. It is one of Pye's earliest commissions: 'White pigskin, blind- and gold-tooled. Bound 1909. A.B. Gillett.'

A.B. Gillett was Arthur Bevington Gillett (1875-1954), who married in 1909, the year he commissioned Pye to bind his copy of Early Poems. He married Margaret Clark (1878-1962), and they moved to North Oxford. His portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery.

Had the auction house known that this binding was by Sybil Pye, even if it was an early one, the estimate of £200-£300 would probably have been higher. However, during the auction, the price quickly rose due to a battle between two bidders and when that seemed to have ended, a third bidder stepped forward and paid the final price of £1,700 (amount without premium).

Apparently, the Pye binding had caught the eye of several interested parties.

The binding is stamped in blind and in gold with ovals, squares and leaves. The shapes in the centre suggest a portal, with a semi-circle above containing the title. The inner circle has the year of publication (1896), and the initials C (left) and R (right), referring (probably) to Charles Ricketts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

516. Keep Following Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon...

Many readers of this blog receive a weekly notification by e-mail that a new blog has been published. The Feedburner system used for this purpose will cease to function in July. Therefore, a new subscription is necessary. 

Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon (blog 513)


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Subscription box

Below this is a section called "Subscribe". Enter your e-mail address in the box below and then press the "Subscribe" button. You will see a confirmation: "Thank you for subscribing!"

From them on, each week, on the day of publication of a new blog,  you will receive an email via MailChimp

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I sincerely hope that you will sign up again to continue following this blog in a smooth way.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

515. Thomas Stainton, a Vale Press Collector (2)

Thomas Stainton's collection consisted of two sections. The oldest section comprised manuscripts and printed books in remarkable bindings. The second part contained publications from the 1890s: some Oscar Wilde books and an incomplete set of The Yellow Book, but mostly private press editions. 

Barham House, Kent
(the library was located on the ground floor,
behind the two windows on the right)

Subsequent additions by the family that inherited the collection (and relocated the library to Barham House near Canterbury) are rather miscellaneous: a Cuala Press edition of Yeats's poetry; a monograph about the architect E.L. Lutyens (who remodelled Barham House); British Flowery Plants by Perrin and Boulger (1914), A History of English Furniture (1904-1908), and some facsimiles of manuscripts that fit well with the old nucleus of the collection. There was also a notable section of works by Joseph Conrad, including a dedication copy with an autograph letter from the author who lived near the Stainton family (and was buried in Canterbury in 1924).

Private presses

Evidently, in later life, Thomas Stainton became interested in the ideas of William Morris and, at the end of the nineteenth century, began collecting publications of the private presses. Only one work from the Doves Press was listed (Tacitus, 1900), the same goes for the Essex House Press (Bunyan, 1899). 

However, the Eragny Press was represented with fifteen books (lots 100-107), and the Kelmscott Press with seven books (lots 147-153).

Kelmscott Press lots 147-152
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)


Stainton must have taken this new branch of his collection seriously, as evidenced by the presence of a copy of the most famous private press edition from the 1890s, a paper copy of Chaucer's Works. (In 1951, this copy was purchased by Maggs for £105.) Stainton's ownership and the 1951 auction are not mentioned in The Kelmscott Chaucer. A Census by William S. Peterson and Sylvia Holton Peterson (2011). The copy may have changed hands a few times since. 

Apparently, Stainton did not mark these new books with an inscription, and he did not have a bookplate made. In the manuscripts and printed books from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, he wrote his name and the date of purchase, but the new books remained without any trace of the owner.

Vale Press

By far the largest part of his private press collection was formed by 95 volumes issued by the Vale Press. This was a nearly complete collection with only two omissions and a few duplicates. It took up lots 247 through 276 in the 1951 auction catalogue. 

Among the pre-Vale publications are copies of Daphnis and Chloe, Hero and Leander and The Sphinx. Thomas Stainton must have taken a subscription to all the works of the Vale Press; the only two volumes missing are E.B. Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (1897) and A Catalogue of Mr. Shannon's Lithographs (1902). 

Vale Press, lots 259-276
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)


Two duplicate copies of three books were present: Maurice de Guérin's The Centaur. The Bacchante (1899), Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1901) and Thomas Browne's Religio Medici (1902). 

Among the star items in his Vale Press collection are two books printed on vellum (and bound to a special design by Ricketts) and another five books that, while simply printed on paper, have a goat- or pigskin leather binding to a unique design by Ricketts. It is no comparison to the extremely rich legacy of his contemporary Laurence Hodson, but it is a considerable collection on its own.

Vale Press, lot 254-256
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)

The early Vale Press editions were printed exclusively on paper and not bound in leather. From October 1897, copies were also printed on vellum and from a year later copies could be bound in leather to a design by Ricketts.

Thomas Stainton commissioned special bindings for some of the early editions: The Poems of Sir John Suckling (1896) was bound in (probably creme) pigskin and decorated with a blind-stamped design. A similar binding was commissioned for Vaughan's Sacred Poems (1897). These bindings are extremely rare, in most cases only one copy has survived, in some cases three copies exist.

For other editions, the collector commissioned bindings in goatskin leather to a design by Ricketts: the two volumes of Tennyson's In Memoriam and Lyric Poems (1900), for example, have been bound in green morocco, the Poems of John Keats (two volumes, 1898) were bound in red morocco tooled to a design by Ricketts - (a similar set was the subject of blog 356: Vale Press Keats Edition in a Deluxe Binding) - and a copy of Shelley's Lyrical Poems (1898) was bound in red morocco to a design by Ricketts, executed by Zaehnsdorf. 

Stainton owned a vellum copy of William Blake's Poetical Sketches (1899), bound in a vellum binding with gilt spine; Ricketts, by now, had decided to have the vellum copies bound to a standard design with front and back covers left blank. Stainton also owned a vellum copy of The Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1897), bound in (quoting the catalogue) 'red morocco tooled to a design by C. Ricketts, a series of line panels, one within the other, leaves at corners and on back, g.e., bound by Riviere under the supervision of C. Ricketts and signed "H R" [Hacon and Ricketts]'. 

Michael Field, Fair Rosamund (1897)
[British Library, Davis274]


The two books printed on vellum did not fetch the highest prices: £28 (Sidney, in a special binding) and £10 (Blake, in a standard binding), indicating that the buyers were mainly interested in bookbindings. The highest bid, £36, was for the two volumes of Keats (printed on paper, but in special bindings), immediately followed by the one-volume edition of Michael Field's Fair Rosamund (1897) that was sold for £32. This was the true highlight of Staintons's Vale Press collection. It was acquired by the book- and printseller Heinrich Eisemann (1890-1972). The next owner was Max Reich, whose collection was sold in 1960. Henry Davis owned this book until 1968, when he donated his collection of bookbindings to the British Library.

Mirjam Foot described the binding in her book The Henry Davis Gift. A Collection of Bookbindings (1983) as: 'Red goatskin tooled in gold to a design of concentric panels with small solid tools, leaf tools, crowns, and R tools. The spine has five gold-tooled bands and six compartments tooled in gold; title lettered on spine. Bound by Riviere & Son (stamp).'

Michael Field, Fair Rosamund (1897) [detail]
[British Library, Davis274]

Obviously, the 'R's refer to the name of the heroine, Rosamund, and the crowns to her position as mistress of King Henry II. Some tools are not mentioned by Foot. These are the small solid heart shape and an open heart shape (love). In the four corners the two shapes are connected by double lines to form an arrow of love (Amor). The central panel contains eight stylised roses (Rosamund). Ricketts's original design drawing for this copy is in the V&A collection.

Thomas Stainton's collection had a secret existence for more than half a century, and even after that, the provenance of the books was often unclear and his nephew's widow was indicated as the (last) owner. There is no known correspondence between Ricketts and Stainton, or between the publisher or shop of Hacon & Ricketts and the collector. Why he was particularly interested in the Vale Press we may never know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

514. Thomas Stainton, a Vale Press Collector (1)

In February 1951, Sotheby & Co in London issued a catalogue of the collection of books from the property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury: Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings. Advertisements highlighted the collection of book bindings, "including a binding for Frederick, Prince of Wales, and an unpublished binding for Thomas Mahieu (Maiolus)". 

The second book was a psalter printed in Basle in 1547, and probably bound for Thomas Mahieu around 1555. This is lot 216 in the catalogue, sold to Konniche - or Konninck? (in the list of prices and buyers' names both forms of the name are listed) - for £500. 

The first book was Robert Tailfer's True and Correct Tables of Time of 1736 in a binding with the arms of Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. This lot, number 241, was sold to Michelmore for £60. G. Michelmore's collection was sold on 14 October 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II acquired the book for the Royal Collection Trust (for £200).

Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton (1863-1940)

The widow Harriet Wilhelmina Stainton, born Grimshaw would dispose of the contents of Barham House later that year through Phillips, Son & Neale in London: 'old-English and decorative furniture, eastern carpets, porcelain, pictures, silver and plated ware'. She moved to Sevenoaks.

From her marriage in 1912, she had lived in Canterbury in the house her husband had moved into a few years earlier. His name was Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton. He had been born in London on 20 June 1863 and would die on 1 November 1940 in Bridge, Kent. At his death in 1940, he left a fortune of £101,863 (net personalty £45,445), which was divided between his two sons. (The couple also had two daughters.) His wife received an annuity of £4,000He must have had a considerable amount of money at his disposal before he inherited another £50,000 or so from an uncle in 1909.

Catalogue (Sotheby & Co., auction of 26-27 February 1951)

The obituaries remain silent about the book collection. However, his social functions are mentioned. He was Justice of the Peace of the County, president of the Village Hall (he had contributed 'the bulk of the money which enabled it to be built'), president of the local District Nursing Association and of the Barham Conservative Association. He was remembered as a 'keen churchman' and 'a real sportsman'. 

Evelyn Stainton was not a book collector, he had probably inherited the collection from Thomas Stainton, who collected books 'in the last forty years of the nineteenth century' (according to The Burlington Magazine, February 1951).

Thomas Stainton (1825-1910)

It is not clear how Thomas Stainton's books came to his nephew Evelyn Stainton. In his will, Thomas (who died unmarried) left an annual sum to the butler and his wife, and the 'residue' went to 'four nieces'. The latter must have been a mistake for two nieces and two nephews, the others having died. 

Stainton was born on 27 July 1825 in London, went to college in Oxford (BA 1851); he lived in London for the rest of his life. After his death, his collection of paintings and old Italian bronzes was sold at auction at Foster's, Pall Mall. The London Daily News (1 July 1910) reported that the bronzes were 'picked up for "half nothing", it is said by the late Mr. Thomas Stainton, 37, Welbeck Street', and now they realised 'striking prices'.

Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias
Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia
(1589)

Books with owner inscriptions from Stainton may have been sold elsewhere. Maggs bought one of his books from Hodgson & Co in 1946, Juan Ochoa de la Salde's Primera parte de la carolea inchiridion... (1555), with the annotation 'Thomas Stainton, Jan. 28 1871'. This book did not appear in the 1951 Sotheby catalogue. A treatise now in the collection of the Folklore Society Library does not appear in that catalogue either, nor does a work now in the collection of emblemata at the University of Illinois, Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia (1589). It has the ownership inscription of Thomas Stainton on the title page (below the main title). It is likely, therefore, that some parts of the collection were sold on other dates and at other auction houses.

J. Calvin, La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558)
[Allard Pierson, Amsterdam]


The collection included diverse types of books: there was a large number of bindings containing manuscripts (such as books of hours), incunabula and other early printed works, often from France or Italy. An example is Calvin's La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558), no. 56 in the catalogue. It was bought by Maggs, came to the collection of John Roland Abbey, and currently is in the collection of Allard Pierson, Amsterdam. 

There was English literature (Dickens, Conrad), and books on birds, art or history, and several shelves with private press books. 

To be continued.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

513. Dedication & Dedications

Collectors of books can vary enormously from one another, there are wolverines among them, explorers, and some collectors concentrate on a single subject, with, admittedly, some satellite subjects - too much fun to ignore. It's all a matter of dedication.

Maggs Bros Ltd devoted an initial catalogue to the collection of Philip Kent Cohen: Oscar Wilde & His Circle (catalogue 1512). In the introduction, Cohen - author of a biography of John Evelyn Barlas (1860-1914) - explains that he gained his fascination with the 1890s during lectures by James G. Nelson. This is the first catalogue in a series that will include volumes on The New Woman, The Rhymers' Club, and Book Arts.


Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)


The chapters of most interest to this blog are those on Oscar Wilde (nos. 1-39, with an introduction to Wilde and bookselling by Ed Maggs), John Gray (nos. 177-207) and Ricketts and Shannon (nos. 279-280).


Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

For example, the Wilde section contains fine copies of the earliest Ricketts-designed books, such as Intentions and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories (both 1891), but the most eye-catching book is a dedication copy of Wilde's A House of Pomegranates, with a presentation inscription by Wilde to Margot Tennant (later Margot Asquith).



Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Endpaper design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

The John Gray section contains some Vale Press editions edited by Gray, but here a group of five copies of Silverpoints, one of Ricketts's best known and most appreciated designs, stands out. There is a deluxe copy bound in vellum and printed on Spalding paper (but one of a series of unnumbered copies). 

There are four copies of the regular edition. 
1. a copy with a handwritten dedication to Lady Gregory;
2. a copy from Walter Pater's collection; this is one of a small number of copies of the regular edition printed on Spalding (the regular edition is printed on Van Gelder paper);
3. an ordinary numbered copy;
4. and another copy of the regular edition.
That's an impressive list.


John Gray, Silverpoints (1893):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)


The Ricketts and Shannon section is only brief and includes two items: an incomplete set of their magazine The Dial (No. 2-5) and a letter from Ricketts to the publisher regarding the design of Wilde's Poems (1892). The book was published on 26 May 1892, and this note is dated (by a third party) 4 April. Ricketts said he had made some changes to the design ('Please put the additions you require where I have indicated.'), and asked the publisher to remove the 'acorns I have scratched out'. This probably refers to the title page and the facing limitation statement.

The splendid catalogue contains descriptions of all items, dozens of illustrations and fascinating commentaries.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

512. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore (5)

Earlier, I wrote about the Gordon Bottomley-Thomas Sturge Moore correspondence, edited by John Aplin, and published online by InteLex Past Masters in Charlottesville, Virginia. This blog publishes some letters about Gordon Bottomley and his publisher Constable.

Charles Ricketts, cover design
for Gordon Bottomley, King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë
(1920)

In 1920, Constable & Company Limited published the first of four sumptuous books of plays and poems by Gordon Bottomley, all with cover designs by Charles Ricketts. In each case, two editions appeared: a regular trade edition and a deluxe edition. The correspondence shows that this was initiated by the publisher, which means the firm saw potential profit in Bottomley's work. Ricketts provided his designs as a gift to the author. Bottomley received copies of the regular edition of King Lear's Wife, The Crier by NightThe Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë on 8 July 1920, the deluxe copies arrived on 9 August.

In a letter from Bottomley to Michael Sadler (Constable), the author welcomed the idea of a limited edition:

I am very glad indeed to hear your idea of doing a small edition in vellum or white cloth; I shall of course be happy to sign these special copies, or to do anything else that will further the project. I should be glad if we could make some arrangement to have four copies done for me in addition to those you are doing for sale: I might say that none of these would be sent to people likely to buy the special copies. In carrying out this idea I wonder if it would be possible to stamp the design in gold? Ricketts tells me he designed it with that purpose in view, and it would be nice to see a few copies done so – though I hasten to add that he also approves the blue and grey for the ordinary edition.
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to Michael Sadler, 24 April 1920, Temple, Constable Archive, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters, letter 434, 19-21 October 1920, note 19).

When the regular edition had been published, Bottomley wrote to Thomas Sturge Moore that he would have to wait a little longer for his copy. The bookbinder needed more time for the deluxe edition. 

The book is out; I expect you will have seen the advertisement in the T.L.S., so you will be expecting your copy to turn up soon, and I hasten to tell you it will not be ready just yet as I am having a special copy bound for you as Ricketts meant it to be. 
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to T. Sturge Moore, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters (letter 399), 8 July 1920.)

Advertisement,
The Times Literary Supplement,
24 June 1920


The design was ready in 1915, but it was not until after the war that the publisher was able to finance the book. Actually, all copies should have been bound in white buckram with the design printed in gold, but only the fifty numbered and signed copies were so executed. The regular edition has the design on a brown cardboard, printed in blue.

It did not end with those fifty copies, for Bottomley had six more copies bound identically for himself, but without the limitation statement (in the deluxe editions this is printed on the page facing the title page). 

Gordon Bottomley, King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë
 (1920)


The additional deluxe copies are mentioned in a letter from Bottomley to T.S. Moore:

Sadler issued at a fabulous price 50 copies done in gold and white cloth as Ricketts intended; so I got him to do six more for me without the numbering and signing; and yours is one of those.
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to T. Sturge Moore, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters, letter 434, 19-21 October 1920.)

The price of the deluxe edition was not mentioned in the advertisement in The Times Literary Supplement, but a leaflet issued in 1925 mentions 31s. 6d.

The edition of the three later Bottomley books published by Constable included lettered copies in addition to the numbered copies, and these were often used by the author as dedication copies. Oddly enough, the edition of these later books may also include deluxe copies without a limitation statement. At least one such copy is known of Poems of Thirty Years (1925), which is curious, because there were already seventy-five deluxe copies for sale, in addition to twelve copies for presentation. Possibly, regular copies were bound in deluxe left-over bindings.

Gordon Bottomley,
King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve,
Laodice and Danaë
 (1920)


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

511. Charles Ricketts's Own Colophon for Silverpoints

Charles Ricketts designed the poetry collection Silverpoints by John Gray. The book appeared in March 1893, but not quite in the way Ricketts desired. In the bibliography of his Vale Press editions, he wrote that some of the books he designed before the Vale Press was established had been the subject of occasional difficulties with printers. This was the case with Silverpoints.

What exactly was missing? 

This is one of the early commissions Ricketts received from Elkin Mathews and John Lane (At the Bodley Head) and he wanted to put his name to it.

His name is represented only by his monogram found on the front and back of the binding: a square with the initials CR in the lower left corner, and by a second signed monogram opposite the last text page. Above the printer's name, the monogram CR appears between three branch and leaf motifs.

Colophon of John Gray, Silverpoints (1893)

In the front of the book, on the reverse side of the title page, is the justification for the edition. Proofs of the title page show that Ricketts had wanted his full name mentioned there. In 1989, the firm of Warrack & Perkins offered a copy of Silverpoints with these proofs in the catalogue The Turn of a Century, 1885-1910: 

Tipped in at the front of this copy is a proof of the title-page with a holograph inscription, “Dear Mr. Matthews (sic). This is the way these pages should be arranged - as I have numbered them, according to Mr. Ricketts. So now Mr. Leighton can proceed with the binding. Yours most sincerely, John Gray.” At the foot of the proof, on the right, opposite the imprint, is pasted a small slip, printed in red in the same italic face as the text of the book: “The binding design of water and willow leaves is by CS Ricketts. The build of the book has throughout been founded on the Aldine Italic books.” It is not clear whether Gray was returning a complete set of galleys (he had asked Lane to send him one in October 1892) or simply proofs of the preliminary leaves (as the phrase ‘these pages’ might suggest). If that were the case, then the red-printed slip might represent an addition to the preliminary text that Ricketts wished to be made (the wording is unmistakenly his) but which was never realized.

John Gray, Silverpoints (1893): verso of title page

Since the additional text was set in the book's typeface, it must have been Ricketts's intention that it be added to the title page, or to the verso of it.

The text was not completely lost. The earliest Bodley Head advertisements for the book contain this very phrase almost verbatim:

Cover (Water and Willow Leaves) and Initial Letters designed by C.S. RICKETTS. Limited Edition (Twenty-five Copies on Japanese paper, £1 1s.). Long 12mo, 7s. 6d. net. The build of this book has been founded throughout on the Aldine Italic Books. 
(The Academy, 10 December 1892, p. 548.)

This leaves room for several possibilities, such as: Ricketts saw the advertisements (based on his own information) and may have thought that this piece of information should actually be in the book; or: the book had already been printed, but not yet bound, and the publisher could merely use it in advertisements.

And questions remain: why was the request not granted, and why are the unused additional lines printed in red? Why would the publisher use Ricketts's name for advertisements, but not in the book itself?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

510. Michael Field, Prostitution and The Hague

In an article about Michael Field, pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, Anna Gruetzner Robins wrote about the pair's erotic dreams and poems, but also about their study of Walter Pater's work in which 'male-male desire' predominates and in which images of women, such as Venus, are described in terms of prostitution: 'An undercurrent of revulsion runs through his comments. He imagines Venus to be a worn-out sex worker, a woman of the streets, up before dawn, with "sorrow in her face" at the thought of the whole long day of love yet to come.' ('A Woman's Touch: Michael Field, Botticelli, and Queer Desire' was published in Botticelli Past and Present, an open access publication of UCL Press, 2019). 

Michael Field had a crush on Botticelli's paintings, until Charles Ricketts convinced them that Edward Burne-Jones was a better painter. Apparently, he did not see that Burne-Jones could not help them have pleasant dreams. 


Capitoline Venus (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

Paintings such as Botticelli's 'Primavera' and sculptures such as the Venus of the Capitol triggered Michael Field's erotic fantasies. Katherine Bradley wrote from Rome to her lover Edith that, happily, the statue of Venus was unshrouded and unmutilated, but that 'the real beauty of the waist is only seen in the back', and she therefore hoped that someone would turn the statue around so that the 'beauty of the loins' could be engraved in her memory.

Her thoughts on the female body were firmly opposed to those of Pater and other nineteenth-century men. Gruetzner Robins briefly discusses Bradley's knowledge of prostitution. 

Josephine Butler (1876)


While living in Bristol, she had become acquainted with a group of Quakers around Josephine Butler who successfully opposed derogatory laws and measures against women in prostitution:

In September 1883 she travelled together with a group of women, including Josephine Butler, to attend the Third Annual Congress of the British and Continental Federation for the Abolition of State Regulation of Vice, at The Hague. There Katherine gave a speech herself and listened to five days of speeches about prostitution.
(Gruetzner Robins, p. 154)

From The Hague she wrote three long letters to Edith about her experiences in the Netherlands where the congress was held from 17 to 22 September 1883. She was one of the many attendees. It has to be said that most of the speakers were men and that there were special sessions where women were not allowed to participate and others that were organised exclusively for women, in addition to which Butler herself held meetings in her own chambers - and it was at one of those intimate meetings, an early-morning prayer-meeting, that Katherine Bradley manifested herself as a speaker. She did not make a speech, for it was during a prayer session that she said a prayer of thanks that won praise in the small devotional circle. This explains why her presence had escaped the notice of the Dutch journalists. There is nothing about these private meetings in the newspaper reports. In a letter of 23 September 1883 Bradley wrote to Edith:

I prayed in the midst of the people, and as I found from the loving gratitude of the Dutch ladies, was understood. I tried to say how that gathering made clear to me the meaning of the day of Pentecost, how though we could not all understand the words of some of the prayers we had heard each man speak in the tongue in wh. he was born, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. And bye the bye I prayed for the women of The Hague, when we left to begin the hard work, and especially gave thanks for these, who had adopted a tongue not their own for our sakes, and received us with such love and kindness. And the dear homely yet withal impressive and dignified ladies came to me and thanked me in a way I shall never forget.
(Sharon Bickle (Ed.), The Fowl and the Pussycat. Love Letters of Michael Field, 1876-1909. Charlottesville and London, University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 105-106).

Despite the hustle and bustle of the conference with speeches in English, French and Dutch, Katherine Bradley still saw something of the city and its surroundings. On 15 September, two days before the start, she arrived at Hotel Paulez.

Hotel Paulez [left], c.1880 (Collection Munipical Archives, The Hague)


In the centre of The Hague, opposite the Royal Theatre and on the corner of Korte Voorhout - where, after a bombing in 1945, the American Embassy designed by Marcel Breuer was to be built - stood the Hotel Paulez, which was a proud second on the list of luxury hotels in The Hague. The hotels that would later lead the ranking, such as Hotel des Indes where Pavlova stayed, did not yet exist at that time. Bradley therefore made an expensive choice, probably inspired by the stay of the entire delegation at the Hotel Paulez.

On her first day, she went with a delegation colleague to Scheveningen for a sea bath:

They gave me as it were a chemise in white flannel with no drawers: the experience though not very safe was delicious [...] The drive to ... the little sea-side place was through Magnificent alleys [...].
(letter, 19 September 1883)

That evening, she attended a busy reception given by the mayor of The Hague, J.G. Patijn, probably in the old city hall on the Groenmarkt.

Town Hall, The Hague (c.1900)

There were 'little glasses of foaming Champagne', 'little patties - wicked looking little things', 'tea in apparently blue Delft ware', after which she got into a conversation with a young Dutch woman with whom she talked about her dress, and Bradley tried to explain 'the high art position'. She was 'relieved to find she had heard of Morris'. Katherine and Edith 'rejected corsets and crinolines in favour of daringly clinging dresses in arty colours such as peach, gold or green, with hair loosely knotted at the nape of the neck' (see Emma Donoghue, We Are Michael Field, 1998, p. 33).

On the first day of the conference, she and Mary Priestman were helped by 'Pastor Pierson' in their search for a place to have lunch. Hendrik Pierson was one of the leading figures in the Dutch debate on prostitution and, according to Bradley, he spoke 'good' English and was 'serviceable'. 

Portrait of Hendrik Pierson (1896)
[Lithograph by Jan Pieter Veth]

Katherine described him as a man with long hair, a socialist who was to speak that evening. A group photo was taken of the participants that afternoon, but Mary and she 'remained obscure  in the background'. This photograph is depicted in The Fowl & the Pussycat, where the location is said to be the Zoological-Botanical Gardens. However, the company would only walk to the zoo after the photograph was taken, and the buildings in the background correspond to the environment of the place where the conference was held. The opening was held in the parliamentary buildings, in the famous Trèves hall, but the congress afterwards took place in the building of 'Kunst en Wetenschappen' (Arts and Sciences) on Zwarteweg. On such occasions, group photos were often taken in the gardens behind the building - some of those can be seen on the website of the Municipal Archives of The Hague. (This district, between Herenstraat and Schedeldoekshaven, was later demolished and replaced by new buildings.)

Kunst en Wetenschappen, c. 1880
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

Bradley bought some grapes, and the party moved to the Zoological Gardens where they 'sat by a pond, and watched the stork on one leg!' 

A delicious place this garden, with the most exquisite foliage plants, and nice brilliant coloured birds [...].
(19 September 1883)

The Zoological Gardens, The Hague
(map, c.1870)
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

In the gardens (located opposite today's central station), many plants and birds could be viewed, but there were also various animal species including kangaroos, deer, a camel, squirrels, antelopes, mouflons, zebras, marmots and bears.

On 22 September, a closing reception was held at the home of Henrik Count van Hogendorp (1842-1924) and his young wife Alice Ellen, born Gevers Deijnoot (1857-1905).

Henrik Count van Hogendorp
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

Katherine described the reception in a letter of 23 September 1883:

And then at half-past eight to the Count van Hogendorp's - the last great reception at one of the grand aristocratic old families of Holland.  [...] The young and beautiful wife had a word for each, - graceful and full of frankest charm [...] Tea in exquisite Delft ware - no handles to the cups - was passed round. I was introduced to a Dutch gentleman - then to his wife, and then in a quiet time looked round at the brilliant Assembly, and at the room, with its Delft wall-plate, its probably family miniatures, and soft tinted curtains. Afterwards in an adjoining room we gathered to hear Mrs Butler speak. There looked down the great  ancestral Hogendorps - approvingly I should think [...].

During Butler's speech, Bradley's gaze wandered to a small Dutch painting of a knitting girl in a white dress. Afterwards, many of the Dutch ladies approached her: 

I am to them a Dutch Madonna - their chosen, as it seems to me of all England's delegates.

And that was because of her prayer of thanksgiving the day before.

The next day Mary Priestman and Katherine Bradley travelled to Amsterdam and from there via Rotterdam back home. Whether Bradley, after this trip, ever spoke again at meetings of the Ladies National Association is unclear. But ethical subjects had the interest of both Michael Fields. They spoke out in favour of votes for women, supported a local anti-vivisection society, and Katherine Bradley had subscribed to John Ruskin's utopian Guild of St. George. Although public activism was set aside for literature; Bradley continued to attend lectures on socialism, and charity, and attended meetings of the Fellowship of the New Life, but 'appeared to have been more of a bystander than an involved member' (Diana Maltz, in Michael Field and Their World, ed. by Margaret D. Stetz and Cheryl A. Wilson, 2007, p. 198).

The prayer of thanks must have been an exceptional expression of faith for a poet who later adhered to pantheism (with a pagan temple in the garden) and still later converted to the Roman Catholic faith.