Wednesday, June 7, 2017

306. The 2017 Alphabet: G

G is for Give.

Give me Chloe to my wife, for I can play finely on a Pipe, I can cut the Vines and I can plant them.

Charles Ricketts, initial G in Daphnis and Chloe (1893)

Daphnis is the speaker of these words, after he has found money, and he can afford to marry his love Chloe. Of course, the story being a love story, this doesn't happen right away as new complications arise. 

The initial G occurs for the first time in this edition of the book that was adorned with 101 initials and 37 wood-engravings (6 of those forming 3 sets of 2) and a publisher's device. There are only 12 out of 107 pages without decorations (including only one spread of two pages!). There are three pages with a maximum of 3 initials (page 55, 62, 74). 

Ricketts and Shannon who collaborated on this book did not feel the need to avoid repetition of certain initials, and the same initial T for instance may occur on two opposite pages, or even on the same page. Meanwhile, the unity of design was challenged, and monotony prevented, by the combination of several alphabets of initials. The stock of those initials was growing. Some were used for The Dial, others would be used again in later publications of the Vale Press.

Daphnis and Chloe (1893)
The initial G only appears on page 71 of this book, and would not be used again until 1903 when The Kingis Quair was published by the Vale Press. The production of these initials was quite time-consuming. They had to be drawn in black ink, adding corrections in white and black again before they could be photographed and reproduced on a woodblock that would then be engraved by Ricketts. After that they were electrotyped, before they could be used in a book. One initial could take as much as a day.

The initial G was one of an incomplete series of initials, this one displaying the fruit of the pomegranate. There are similar initials, showing the same type of winding branches that are tied together, but without the pomegranate.