Wednesday, February 16, 2022

550. A Daphnis and Chloe Provenance (2)

In this sequel about the provenance of a copy of Daphnis and Chloe (1893) in the collection of the Arizona State University Library - see last week's blog 549. A Daphnis and Chloe Provenance (1) - I will consider the more recent bookplate pasted to the reverse of the front cover.

Daphnis and Chloe (Vale Press, 1893)
Collection ASU, Arizona State University Library:
SPEC C-1987

This is the bookplate of Albert Sperisen (1908-1999) that he used only for his collection of Vale Press books. He designed and commissioned other ex-libris as well, for example, for his collection of Eric Gill wood engravings. 

Sperison, who lived in San Francisco, enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts, and later worked as an art director and book designer, and he was associated with some private presses, including the Black Vine Press. He was an influential member of the Book Club of California since 1937, serving as librarian, and (vice-) president of the Board. 

Parts of his book collection were donated to Stanford University Library, Clark Library, University of California at Los Angeles, and the Gleeson Library in San Francisco.

His Vale Press collection is said to be at Stanford, but some Vale Press books have found their way to institutional collections elsewhere, and to private collections.

Press mark in The List of Books to Be Published
by Messrs. Hacon and Ricketts...

For these books, he used a bookplate depicting the first pressmark of the Vale Press: the initials V and P, a rose, and the letters S and R representing Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts. Its first appearance was in a pre-Vale book, Hero and Leander (1894), in which it was printed on the last page under the motto 'Inter Folia Renata Rosa'.

This press mark also adorned the first prospectuses for the Vale Press in 1896 (such as The List of Books to Be Published by Messrs. Hacon and Ricketts..., 1896), but in the first official book of the Vale Press, Milton's Early Poems (1896), it was changed: the letters S and R were replaced by H and R, the firm's business partners: Llewellyn Hacon and Charles Ricketts. Shannon was not involved in the publishing business.

Press mark in A List of Books Issued
by Messrs. Hacon & Ricketts...

Not only the initials have been changed, the whole image has been redrawn, the serifs of the V are more in keeping with the typeface Ricketts had since designed (in the earlier design these were rather thin lines), and the rose now shows all kinds of subtleties that were missing in the first design. 

It is somewhat strange that Sperisen chose the earlier variant for his bookplate, which after all did not really refer to the Vale Press period, but to the pre-Vale books, and that he thus ignored the later more beautiful version.

However, it is conceivable that he first acquired a copy of Hero and Leander and only later managed to buy Milton's Early Poems, or one of the lists of announcements, and when he noticed the differences between the two designs, his bookplate had long since been printed and put to use.