Wednesday, September 15, 2021

529. A New Catalogue: "The Vale Press of Charles Ricketts"

Sales catalogues or e-lists devoted entirely to the books of the Vale Press and Charles Ricketts are quite rare. On September 7, Blind Horse Books in DeLand, Florida, distributed online a list of 25 items: nineteen works (in twenty volumes), five related books about Ricketts, and one prospectus for a Vale Press book. Some of these works can also be found on the antiquarian bookshop's website

Screenshot of Blind Horse Books' website, September 2021

The condition of most of the books is far from perfect: there are damaged spines, sun-darkened covers, and some copies have been rebound, in one case by the American bookbinder James Tapley, who died in 2019. One of the items is the booklet we published ourselves: Charles Ricketts's Mysterious Mother that Tapley bought when it was published. The books in this catalogue are from his collection. He may have bought some books in poor condition with a view to re-binding them.

An example of Tapley's bookbindings can be found on the website of the SMU Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology: the binding he made in 2019 (the year of his death) for the Vale Press edition of Henry Vaughan's Sacred Poems. This copy is now offered for sale in the Blind Horse Books list.

Other books were acquired by Tapley out of interest in Ricketts's work, and there are two extremely interesting items here.

One of them is Ricketts's reminiscences of Oscar Wilde, published posthumously by the Nonesuch Press in 1932, Oscar Wilde. Recollections. This copy is not numbered and comes from the collection of the Nonesuch Press publisher Francis Meynell who always kept a few copies for himself before the numbers were written into the copies. A note from his nephew documents the provenance. In addition to this unnumbered copy, and the numbered copies of the edition, there are also copies 'out of series' for review.

Another exceptional book is Ricketts's Beyond the Threshold from 1929. The book should have appeared before Christmas 1928 (Ricketts wrote in a letter), but the earliest dedication copy is dated 7 March 1929. The Tapley copy contains an invoice from the publisher A.J.A. Symons/The First Editions Club for G.C. Williamson, which shows that the book cost £3 3s when published and that it was already available in February: the invoice is dated 19 February 1929.