Wednesday, June 20, 2018

360. Ricketts's Design of Oscar Wilde's Poems (1892) (7)

The British Library blogpost 'Poems by Oscar Wilde' contains, among others, an image of the page facing the title page, and in the upper left hand corner one can see a watermark. This is copy no. 18 of Oscar Wilde's Poems (1892) (BL shelfmark: Eccles 254). This is part of the bifolium that was pasted in at the front, while the rest of the book is the left-over stock of the 1882 reprint of Bogue's edition of Wilde's Poems. (See earlier blog posts).

Oscar Wilde, Poems (1892): detail of verso of half title of No. 18
The watermark reads 'MA'. It is part of a name. No other marks can be seen.

In another copy, numbered 22, a different (part of the) watermark is discernible.

Oscar Wilde, Poems (1892): detail of watermark of No. 22
Here we see part of a fleur-de-lys and the numbers '18'. The number represents the first two digits of the date of manufacture, probably 1891 or earlier.

Another copy, numbered 160 (Bodleian Library: Walpole e.782), shows yet another part of the watermark: 'IVES'. A fourth copy, numbered 141, again has 'MA' (Bodleian Library, Ross e.92).

The paper is not the same as that of the other pages of the book. These were printed on 'Van Gelder Zonen' paper, a Dutch handmade paper, as Stuart Mason states in his bibliography of the works of Oscar Wilde. He doesn't mention the type of paper of the added bifolium that was printed in 1892.

Nicholas Frankel, in his Oscar Wilde's Decorated Books (2000) asserts that these added pages at the front are watermarked 'Abbey Mill Greenfield'. I cannot corroborate this. The name doesn't seem to fit the watermarks that have been photographed, and are shown above. On the other hand, it might be judged improbable for a small edition of 220 copies to have the four new pages be printed on several different papers; but that have may been the case.

We need to see more images of the watermarks in the first four pages of the book. Please send me images and suggestions.