Wednesday, February 1, 2012

28. Two limited editions

Limited editions of books from the nineties only had a statement of limitation in the edition in question: for example, the ordinary edition of Lord de Tabley's Poems, dramatic and lyrical (1893) stated on the page preceding the frontispiece: 'This Edition is limited to Six Hundred Copies'. Another hundred copies were bound in vellum and they had a different limitation statement: 'This Edition is limited to One Hundred Copies' - neither Edition mentioned the other one. The advertisements in Elkin Mathews & John Lane's List of new and forthcoming books (1893) did not reveal all that much: 'A limited number on Japanese paper'. This practice underlines the exclusivity of the more limited edition - if you did not have access to it, you would be unaware of its existence. 

This kind of editorial secrecy has also been applied to books about Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, of which I will give two examples. In 1972, L'Art ancien of Zurich published bulletin 25: A collection of books designed by Charles Ricketts. Shortly after the bibliography went to press, the collection was sold to John Paul Getty II (1932-2003). The colophon (facing the title page) mentioned: '500 copies of this catalogue have been printed : this is no :' Many copies were not numbered, and ordinary copies do not mention that, besides an edition in blue paper wrappers, there was an edition in half cloth. A true Ricketts collector, of course, has copies of both editions.

From top to bottom: Catalpa Press catalogue (limited edition and ordinary edition) and L'art ancien catalogue (bound copy and copy in wrappers)
Another semi-secret de-luxe edition was published by the Catalpa Press in 1985. The ordinary plain paper edition of the Catalogue of the works of Charles Ricketts RA from the collection of Gordon Bottomley, written by Michael Richard Barclay, has no statement of limitation. However, fifty copies were printed on Conqueror paper - making the book twice as thick - and these have a handwritten limitation statement on the first fly-leaf: 'No. [..] of 50 Copies', bearing the author's signature underneath. Recently, Ian Hodgkins & Co. Ltd. described a copy of this edition on their website.