Wednesday, February 15, 2012

30. A copy for reference

Most private press publications go without a personal inscription by the author and buyers have not written their opinions between the lines or in the margins of these expensive books. However, there are exceptions. A copy of a Dutch private press book by Geerten Gossaert, Experimenten, was heavily annotated by his mistress, the poet Annie Salomons, in preparation for a lecture about his work. This copy is now in the National library of the Netherlands.
Note, in pencil, in a copy of The Kingis Quair (1903)
Only a small number of Vale Press books have inscriptions by the authors or editors. Copies with inscriptions by former owners turn up now and then, but copies with annotations by readers are more rare. A short inscription is found in a privately owned copy of The Kingis Quair by James I of Scotland. Underneath the colophon a German reader has pencilled a note on the type:

'King's Fount
by Charles Ricketts
Vale Press 1903
laut Encycl. S. 149'

This reference ('according to the encyclopaedia, page 149') perhaps indicates that the owner collected books for their typography and design, and not so much for the text, and there is no note on the author, although the book seems to have been read all through (all quires have been cut open). Of course, the note may have been written by a dealer. Whatever the case, the writer left no trace - there is no name, bookplate, note on provenance, or inserted letter.

Anyway, the most important 'handwriting' in private press books can be ascribed to Time. The title label on the front cover for example has brown stains for which the glue may be blamed.
Title label for The Kingis Quair (1903)