Wednesday, May 30, 2012

44. Printed on Vale Press paper

The Vale Press was the first private press to dispose of its type by throwing the punches into the River Thames, an example that was followed a decade later by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, and ultimately by Esther Pissarro (crossing the Channel). The lead of the type itself was too valuable to throw away, the types were melted down. The paper stock was another matter to deal with; apparently Ricketts sold the paper to James Guthrie of the Pear Tree Press, who used it for a few books and announcements. 

Colophon of L.V. Hodgkin, Holy poverty (Pear Tree Press, 1905)
One of these was a pamphlet by Lucy Violet Hodgkin (1869-1954), Holy poverty. The message of St. Francis for to-day, which was published at the Pear Tree Press in 1905. 
Title page of L.V. Hodgkin, Holy poverty (Pear Tree Press, 1905)
In The Vale Press. Charles Ricketts, a publisher in earnest, Maureen Watry writes (footnote 93) that Holy poverty, and an announcement for E.P.P. Macloghlin's Poetry (1905) were printed on Vale Press paper bearing the watermark of the mermaid, a paper Ricketts had designed for his Shakespeare edition. Macloghlin's book of poetry was printed on paper bearing the Vale Press watermark. The copy I have seen of Poetry was indeed printed on that paper. However, a copy of Holy poverty that came to my notice was not printed on mermaid paper, but on Unbleached Arnold paper with the Vale Press watermark. Guthrie may have printed the edition on a variety of papers, of course; please mail me the Vale watermarks you find in your copies of Pear Tree publications.
Unbleached Arnold paper with the Vale Press watermark in Holy poverty (Pear Tree Press, 1905)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

43. Rik was talked off his feet by Ricketts

In 1996 an exhibition in the Museum Meermanno in The Hague commemorated  the foundation of The Vale Press in 1896. During preparations it came to light that the Dutch libraries together did not possess a complete collection of the ninety volumes of the press, however, several public collections contained a small representative group of Vale Press books, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National library of the Netherlands being one of them. The national library acquired the books in three batches, in 1900, in 1954, and in 1988.

In 1988 a few books were added to the collection as a longstanding loan from the Dutch Museum for Literature. These books came from the bequest of the poet Adriaan Roland Holst, a nephew of the artist and book designer Richard (Rik) Roland Holst (1868-1938), who visited London in 1893 to meet William Morris and Walter Crane. He became best of friends with Ricketts.
Richard Roland Holst and his wife Henriette van der Schalk (cover for Het boek van de Buissche Heide, 2012)
He wrote a long letter about Ricketts and Shannon to his fiancée, Henriette van der Schalk, misspelling the name of his new hero: 'Rickets talks you off your feet, he keeps on talking, without talking nonsense, very intense and excited, never jumpy, giving a broad perspective, you can feel that he has seen a lot, and  knows everything'. He thought him a brilliant man, whose work was 'deep, ingenious, full of fantasy, with a purity of rich feeling'; all features of art he was striving for himself. He admired Ricketts, for although Roland Holst was only two years younger than Ricketts, the latter had achieved far more: he founded his own magazine The dial, and he designed the covers for books of Oscar Wilde and Thomas Hardy. Ricketts had designed the binding and typography of John Gray's Silverpoints, of which Roland Holst owned copy number 111, and Ricketts and Shannon had worked a year on their latest publication, Daphnis and Chloe. When Rik Roland Holst visited their home in The Vale, Ricketts and Shannon were working on the wood-engravings for Hero and Leander.

The first Vale Press book, Milton's Early poems (1896), was acquired by the national library during the Winter of 1900. The work of Ricketts and Shannon had been exhibited in the Netherlands as early as 1892, and private collectors had been more attentive. J. Visser of Rotterdam had corresponded with Ricketts, and had been buying books since 1897. After the Vale Press suffered from a devastating fire at the printer's, the library bought a few books, such as Michael Field's The world at auction (1898), Ricketts's A defence of the revival of printing (1899) and The Rowley poems of Thomas Chatterton (1898). They arrived in November and December 1900, and were acquired directly from the shop of Hacon and Ricketts.

The Chatterton edition is remarkable, as it is one of only a few sets in the so-called flame binding, of which the pattern of flames and orange dots was a memento of the fire in which many wood blocks and unbound copies had been lost. The Vale Press stated that only three copies of the Chatterton had survived, but, as there are copies at The Houghton Library, at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, and at least three copies are known to be in private collections, more than three copies must have been found among the debris.

In 1954 the Koninklijke Bibliotheek again acquired two Ricketts items, the first of which was Beyond the threshold (1929), which was bought for its binding. The same goes for the edition of the Lyric poems of Tennyson, which was bound in red morocco by Zaehnsdorf, and acquired through the antiquarian firm of Frank Hammond. This book is one of only ten copies on vellum.

A vellum copy of Alfred Tennyson, Lyric poems (Vale Press, 1900) [© Photo: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National library of the Netherlands/Jos Uljee, 2010]
Rik's nephew, the poet Adriaan Roland Holst - who owned a not well-cared for copy of Daphnis and Chloe - went to meet Ricketts in 1920, and after the visit Ricketts wrote to his old friend: 'I liked your Nephew, he seemed bright, pleasant, manly, and pleasant to talk to.'

[A longer version of this blog was published in Dutch as: 'Ricketts praat je omver', in: KB Centraal, 30 (2001) 2 (March), p. 5-6.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

42. Patterned papers (f: Pine-cone and leaf)

The Vale Press programme of early English text editions included The sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney, which had been in preparation since 1896 before it was announced for October 1897; the book finally appeared in March 1898. The description of the cover paper in Ricketts's bibliography reads: 'pine-cone and leaf'. The probably stylized, fan-shaped leaf form may have been derived from the gingko tree.

Cover for The sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1898)
Originally, as can be read in the Michael Field journals (21 April 1898), the Sidney edition should have had a cover paper with primroses, but, due to a strike at the printers the publication scheme was adapted, and Ricketts used the paper of pine-cones which he had intended for Michael Field's next book. The Fields wrote: 'poor Sidney who had never anything to do with the Bacchic spirit'. Ricketts used an image of the Greek symbol for Bacchic rituals, a thyrsus topped with a pine-cone, on the border page of their book, The world at auction (1898).

Thyrsus topped with a pine-cone in the border, designed by Charles Ricketts for Michael Field, The world at auction (1898)
The cover design for The sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney has minor irregularities: some of the leaves have ten, others have eleven or twelve veins, while there are also many leaves that have thirteen veins that arise from the bottom of the blade and fan out to the rim. Horizontal and vertical lines are visible in the design, and the basic form of the design for the paper cover consists of eight leaves and eight pine-cones.
Detail of cover paper for The sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1898): a horizontal line is visible in the pattern
The design has been printed in green on a buff coloured paper, which is pasted on to the brown cardboard covers. The border of this book incorporates leaves of laurel.
Detail of cover paper for The sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1898)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

41. Lot sold

The library of Jacques Levy, which was on sale at Sotheby's, New York, on 20 April, had some surprises in store for us. The special copy of Daphnis and Chloe sold for 8.780 US$, while the exceptional copy of The importance of being earnest - one of only twelve copies on Japanese paper, bound in full vellum, with the author's dedication to Robert Ross - sold for the amount of 362.500 US$ (hammer price with buyer's premium).

Should we see this as reasonable prices for books, while a pastel by Munch, one of four known 'Scream' images, changed hands for more than a hundred million?

I would love to see a picture of the bookcase, now containing the Jacques Levy copies of Ricketts's books, on Bookshelf Porn - or on this blog.

Detail of Charles Ricketts, woodcut,  'Love in the snow' (from Daphnis and Chloe, 1893, p. 61)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

40. Charles Ricketts's articles in The Burlington magazine

This blog is an addendum to blog 39 and has been contributed by Barbara Pezzini:

List of articles by Charles Ricketts in The Burlington magazine
By Barbara Pezzini (edited by PvC)

1. C.R., [Review of: Velasquez. By Wilfred Wilberforce and A.R. Gilbert], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 5, no. 15 (June 1904), p. 322.
2. Charles Ricketts, 'The masterpieces by Velazquez in the Imperial Gallery at Vienna', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 5, no. 16 (July 1904), p. 338-341, 343, 345, 347.
3. Charles Ricketts, 'Fantin-Latour', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 6, no. 19 (October 1904), p. 17-18. [Obituary.]
4. C. Ricketts, [Review of: Rubens. By Max Rooses], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 6, no. 22 (January 1905), p. 330-331.
5. Charles Ricketts, 'Watts at Burlington House', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 6, no. 23 (February 1905), p. 346-350.
6. C.R., [Review of: The Dürer Society. Seventh series], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 6, no. 24 (March 1905), p. 502-503.
7. Charles Ricketts, 'The portrait of Isabella Brant in the Hermitage', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 7, no. 25 (April 1905), p. 83-84. [Letter to the editor.]
8. Charles Ricketts, 'Constantin Meunier', 'II, His aim and place in the art of the nineteenth century', in: The magazine of art, vol. 7, no. 27 (June 1905), p. 181-182, 186-187. [Part I was written by R. Petrucci.]
9. Charles Ricketts, 'Dalou', in: The magazine of art, vol. 7, no. 29 (August 1905), p. 348, 353-354.
10. C.R., [Review of: Pisanello. By G.F. Hill], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 8, no. 32 (November 1905), p. 141-142.
11. C.R., [Review of: Giotto. By Basil de Selincourt], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 8, no. 32 (November 1905), p. 142-143.
12. C.R., [Review of: Dürer Society. Eight Series], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 8, no. 35 (February 1906), p. 362.
13. Charles Ricketts, 'Adolph von Menzel', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 9, no. 37 (April 1906), p. 51-52. [Review of: Adolph von Menzel. Abbildungen seiner Gemälde und Studien].
14. C. Ricketts, 'Early German art at the Burlington Fine Arts Club': 'III, Dürer and his successors', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 9, no. 40 (July 1906), p. 264-267-268. [Part I was written by Lionel Cust; part II was written by Aymer Vallance.] [Exhibition review.]
15. C. Ricketts, [Letter on an attribution to Hubert van Eyck:  Pictures in the collection of Mr. John G. Johnson, of Philadelphia], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 9, no. 42 (September 1906), p. 426. [Preceded by a letter from Herbert P. Horne.]
16. C.R. [Review of: Oxford Union Society. The story of the painting of the pictures on the walls, and the decorations on the ceiling of the old Debating Hall, Oxford. By Holman Hunt], in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 10, no. 46 (January 1907), p. 262-263.
17. Charles Ricketts, 'Puvis de Chavannes: a chapter from 'Modern painters', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 13, no. 61 (April 1908), p. 9-12, 17-18.
18. Charles Ricketts, 'The Franco-British exhibition', 'The French section', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 13, no. 64 (July 1908), p. 192-195. [Followed by 'The British section', written by Robert Ross.] [Exhibition review.]
19. C.R., [Review of: Auguste Rodin, l'oeuvre et l'homme. Par Judith Cladel], in: The Burlingtin magazine, vol. 14, no. 72 (March 1909), p. 368-369.
20. Charles Ricketts, 'In memory of Charles Conder', in: The Burlington magazine, vol. 15, no. 73 (April 1909), p. 8, 13-14.

Ricketts published 9 book reviews, 2 exhibition reviews, 5 articles, 2 letters and 2 obituaries in The Burlington magazine, of which only seven were published again in Pages on art (1913): he revised his obituaries of Fantin-Latour and Conder (p. 89-94 and p. 1-14) and his articles about Watts (p. 95-113), Meunier (p. 115-124), Dalou (p. 125-135) and Puvis de Chavannes (p. 55-79). In his first volume of art criticism he also included slightly rewritten versions of the Von Menzel and Rodin reviews (p. 137-145 and p. 83-88). However, thirteen of his contributions to The Burlington magazine were not published again by Ricketts.