Wednesday, September 5, 2012

58. Curious errors (4)

One of the most fascinating but elusive characters of the 1890s is Gleeson White, who frequently referred to the work of Ricketts and Shannon in magazine articles and who wrote two longer essays about Ricketts's work, one in The pageant (the 1896 volume) and one in The magazine of art (April 1897). Not much is written about Gleeson White, who died before he reached his fifties.

Gleeson White (1851-1898) was one of the founders of The studio in 1893 and an author of books about design. He was also a book designer of importance himself who demonstrated a perceptive eye for younger artists.

In his essays about Ricketts and Shannon, one feels that his criticism was well informed. It is therefore quite surprising to read, in his 1897 essay 'At the Sign of the Dial. Mr Ricketts as a book-builder' (The magazine of art, April 1897, p. 304-309) the following paragraph:

The earliest book produced under Mr. Ricketts's entire control is "Silver-Points" (Lane, 1891) - a tall thin octavo, which, in its dainty cover (designed by Mr. Charles H. Shannon), is a treasure to collectors and a continual joy to the lover of fine books.

The book was not published in 1891, but in 1893: we can easily forgive a slip of the pen like that. However, the attribution of the famous Silverpoints cover to Shannon instead of Ricketts, is a curious mistake, and one that I have not seen repeated by others.
Cover for John Gray, Silverpoints (1893), designed by Charles Ricketts: the deluxe edition bound in vellum (left) and the ordinary edition in green cloth (right) [picture from Strange flowers]