Wednesday, January 16, 2013

77. A Paper Wrapper for A Pageant

Book-jackets, Thomas G. Tanselle's (partly new) study on paper wrappers for books, mentions a dustwrapper for volume 2 of The Pageant, 1897, that is unusual because the book mentions the name of the designer.
Wrapper for The pageant, 1897
Usually the designers of these jackets were not identified, but then, most wrappers were only sparsely illustrated, while this one is printed in colour after a design by Gleeson White. The drawing is not signed, but his name is mentioned in a footnote to the foreword, which is also quoted by Tanselle as it calls the jacket an 'outer wrapper', showing that the nomenclature for this phenomenon had not yet chrystallized.

Gleeson White, who was the literary editor of the magazine, must have designed it in consultation with the art editor, Charles Shannon, who could have commissioned another artist, for example Charles Ricketts, who designed the binding, or Lucien Pissarro, who designed the end-papers. Apparently it was not deemed important for this magazine to follow the new rules of book design, whereby the book was seen as a unity. The designs by Ricketts, Pissarro, and Gleeson White are quite different in character, and the whole now expresses not so much the unity of the book as the intimacy of a small coterie of artists.
Wrapper for The pageant, 1897
Gleeson White's design is printed in green, red and white on thin brown wrapping paper. It illustrates a brick wall, behind which one can see a pageant, with people who are out of sight, carrying spears and banners. In the front is a row of trees, with doves and flowers. The title, the publisher's name, and the price are mentioned on the front. The spine is almost never shown. It also mentions the title and the imprint.
Spine of wrapper for The pageant, 1897
The first volume of The Pageant (for 1896) did not have a paper wrapper, and one may assume that the reason for Gleeson White's wrapper must have been the lack of sales. The second volume, in spite of its attractive colour wrapper, was to be the last of this short-lived annual for art and literature.