Some publishers' actions are so weird that after a century they become downright inexplicable. In 1899, the adventurous Leonard Smithers published a 'fairy tale' by Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facardins, printed for the (non-existent) Lutetian Society in London. The society was intended to publish the works of Emile Zola, and as a front for the distribution of erotic works, although this tale is barely erotic.
Nothing strange so far. This is what Smithers was accustomed to doing.
There are copies of this edition with a paper cover and a frontispiece after a design by Hugh Graham. But there are also copies bound in green linen, without Graham's design and without the frontispiece. So far, everything stays within the framework of what can be expected from this publisher of both literary and offensive titles.
|Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facarins (1899):|
upper board of binding
As I wrote in January in blog 545 (Leonard Smithers, Charles Shannon and An Ideal Husband), Steven Halliwell and Michael Seeney published a booklet on Smithers and the edition of Oscar Wilde's play An Ideal Husband whose binding was designed by Charles Shannon. This publication of The Rivendale Press contained a remark and some photographs about The Four Facardins.
The image below shows a title label that is damaged at the top. Part of the letter A (of An) can be seen.
Is it possible that whoever was making the bindings got the instructions for the two bindings confused? (Bruce Russell)