Wednesday, December 15, 2021

541. Ricketts's Publisher's Devices for Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. (6)

As mentioned last week, the title page of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories by Oscar Wilde was not decorated or embellished with illustrations or illuminated initials. Ricketts designed the title page in an almost classical manner: title, author's name, place of publication and the name of the publisher are neatly centralised on the page, but between the title and author's name the word 'by' is not central; it is shifted to the right. And at the bottom, the year of publication is also placed 'too much' to the right - these words are italicised (but that also applies to part of the title), emphasising the asymmetrical design.

This asymmetry is continued on the cover.

Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories (1891)
Cover design by Charles Ricketts

In addition to the elongated publisher's mark on the front cover, Ricketts drew a smaller vignette for the spine and back cover. It only measures 40 mm in height.

Charles Ricketts, publishers's mark
for Oscar Wilde,
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories

This is one of the most fragile bookbindings Ricketts has designed. A very thin cardboard is used for the cover, overlaid with soft salmon-coloured paper. The ink for the vignettes has run out, making the details difficult to see. For the spine device, Ricketts has omitted the name of the publisher. The image combines the two pairs of wings (that were at either side of the caduceus in the other mark) with entwined snakes curling around it; below the upper pair of wings the snake's heads come together.

Device No. III
July 1891. 40 x 10 mm.
Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories. Spine. Repeated on the back cover. Printed in red or brown.