Copy Number One, The very uncommon extra illustrated edition.
This set comprises the 37 volumes of the Vale Press edition of Shakespeare, which was issued in 1900-1903, in 'full turquoise morocco' bindings, displaying 'hand tooled wavy gilt surrounding a red inlaid flower design in gilt-ruled borders'. The illustration shows how lavishly the bindings have been decorated. It is not mentioned that for this set the original buckram bindings, with a blind-stamped design by Charles Ricketts, who designed the series from cover to cover, have been discarded.
|The Vale Shakespeare edition (1900-1903) as offered by Swann Auction Galleries, 2012|
|Title page of Shakespeare, The life of Timon of Athens (Vale Press, 1900), an extra illustrated copy|
The Vale Press edition of the works of Shakespeare is limited to 300 copies. This is copy number one.
This page is not set in the Avon type, which was used exclusively for the edition, nor in one of the other two types that were designed by Ricketts for the Vale Press. The limitation page is certainly not an initiative of the Vale Press, but probably the work of a collector or dealer. John Lane, who distributed copies in the United States, never advertised such an edition. Whoever was responsible followed the fashion of the times, first by having the complete set rebound in leather, secondly by adding all these plates, and thirdly by adding these bogus limitation pages. There is no number one, we can only say that there was a collector who wanted to be a Number One Collector.
|Inserted limitation page in Shakespeare, The life of Timon of Athens (Vale Press, 1900)|
|Original opening pages in Shakespeare, The life of Timon of Athens (Vale Press, 1900)|