Wednesday, April 23, 2014

143. Thomas Bird Mosher's Vale Press collection (1)

Thomas Bird Mosher (1852-1923) used his private collection as a source of inspiration for the lay-out and design of his own Mosher imprints that can be searched on Phil Bishop's website The Mosher Press.

Mosher used several Vale Press designs for his catalogues and poetry books. Part of his collection of Vale Press books was auctioned at the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York on the afternoon of 11 May 1948.

Cover of Library of the late Thomas Bird Mosher (catalogue 1948)
A day earlier another part of his collection was sold, including four books of the Kelmscott Press, fetching prizes between 8,- and 52,50 dollars.

Library of the late Thomas Bird Mosher (catalogue 1948, p. 57)
The Vale Press books were offered differently. They were not described in separate lots as were the Kelmscott books, but grouped together. The two volumes of Benvenuto Cellini's Life, however, and the three volume set of Shelley's Poems were offered as individual lots. Also, there were lots with two to seven volumes, and the larger groups did not mention all the titles, but mentioned a few of them and stated 'and others'.

Library of the late Thomas Bird Mosher (catalogue 1948, p. 58)
The last lot, containing a copy of The Parables from the Gospels, also included a Ruskin book that was not issued by the Vale Press, thus telling us that the Vale Press books were not seen as equally important or valuable as the Kelmscott Press books, and more in line with regular commercial publications such as Unto this Last by Ruskin printed for George Allen by the Ballantyne Press, who also printed the Vale Press books. The lots with Vale Press books realized prizes between 6,- and 20,- dollars, the largest amount was paid for the folio volumes of the Cellini edition.