Cardew also seems to have coloured copies of Kelmscott Press books, ordered directly by some collectors, and this may well have been the case for Vale Press books. The article on Cardew (written by Denis Collins) notes that she always signed her work:
She always identified her work either by signing the book or by attaching, often to the verso of the front free endpaper, a small label stating: "The Illustrations in this Book were coloured by hand by Miss Gloria Cardew."'
The Vale Press books that were hand-coloured by Cardew were published around the time that she was active as a colourist (between 1897 and 1904). One of the coloured Vale press books was published in 1896, two others in 1897.
Vincent Barlow - who earlier this year contributed a blog about Shannon - wrote to say that he owns a coloured copy of another early Vale Press book, the 1897 edition of The Excellent Narration of the Marriage of Cupide and Psyches by Apuleius. The hand-coloured illustrations have not been signed by the artist, so it seems another colourist was trying her or his hand at colouring Vale Press books as well. The quality of the colouring is of a high standard.
All six wood-engravings in the book have been coloured (in watercolour), as well as the opening initial T. The initial was printed in red, the engravings in black.
|Charles Ricketts, 'Love's Pact with Jove' (1897)|
|Charles Ricketts, 'The Leap from the Rock' (1987)|
|Lucius Apuleius, The Excellent Narration of the Marriage of Cupide and Psyches (1897)|
The coloured images change the book's appearance and design. The original colour scheme of the book was black (text and images), white (paper), and adornments in red: the title and initial on page 3, a song on page 7/8, notes and page numbers throughout the book, the 'finis' on page 56, and the two colophon pages with the publisher's device. The wood-engravings blend in with the text. In the coloured copy this is not the case; the images are more conspicuous, and disturb the original balance.
|Charles Ricketts, 'Psyches' Invisible Ministrants' (1987)|
The colouring - though less harmonious than that by Cardew - not only displays qualities that testify of artistic talent, the fact that all six wood-engravings, and the initial have been coloured suggests that the colourist enjoyed a high degree of perseverance and purposefulness. Alas, we do not have a name to attach to the coloured images yet.
I think that Ricketts would not have liked these added colours, but one never knows. The initial on page 3 - a page that shows a carefully considered balance between black and red - has been gilded, while the branches and bunches of grapes have been coloured in green.
|Lucius Apuleius, The Excellent Narration of the Marriage of Cupide and Psyches, page 3 (1897)|
The addition of colour in Vale Press books remains a question of taste, particularly the collector's taste, and in the last century that taste has changed radically. The modern collector prefers to see the book as it was issued, as a work of art of which all details are decided upon by one artist. A collaboration between artists and dealers usually diminishes the artistic value, while the interventions of collectors are mostly too personal to keep their value. That is to say that a unique coloured copy is not always more valuable than an ordinary uncoloured copy, on the contrary, but now that ordinary copies of Vale Press books are less valuable than ten or twenty years ago, such a copy might fetch a higher price.