Victor Hammer's First Privately Printed Book


(Florence: Stamperia del Santuccio, 1931). 340 x 229 mm. (13 3/8 x 9"). [78] pp. No. 51 OF 95 COPIES.

In a peculiar amateur binding of blue crushed morocco, upper cover with short black and orange lines onlaid at upper left and lower right corners, centerpiece of onlaid black coffin-like ornament entwined by an orange snake, flat spine with onlaid orange sword with gilt titling, ivory moiré silk endleaves. In a matching velvet-lined orange linen folding box with orange morocco back and lip, onlaid sword on back. Printed in black and bistre. Front flyleaf with bookplate of Norman J. Sondheim. Victor Hammer: Artist and Printer, p. 142; Ransom, p. 336. Leather a little spotted, soiled, and with slight variation of color, isolated very trivial flecks of foxing, otherwise a fine copy, the text brilliantly white and clean, and the binding unworn.

Offered in a binding probably by one of two major figures in the California book world, this is a scarce copy of the first privately printed work produced by Victor Hammer and one of the few he printed in folio. Milton's version of a Greek tragedy recounting the biblical story of Samson and Delilah appears here in the uncial type Hammer designed and had cut by Paul Koch. The types he designed were all uncials because he felt that style was needed "for the loftier expression of the philosopher and the sacred language of the past." A Hammer page is instantly recognizable, with its clearly Medieval feel, his mounded letters resembling manuscripts from the 11th and 12th centuries much more than the 15th century scribal hands that Gutenberg imitated. Our binding could possibly be by Gale Herrick or perhaps by his good friend Duncan Olmsted. Herrick was an enthusiastic binder who used Peter Fahey's studio to produce pleasant and creative work, and Olmsted was also a keen amateur binder of fine press books in the style often called "loving hands at home." Both men were collectors as well as founders of the Hand Bookbinders of California, now in its 45th year. The present binding is not the finished product of an elite workshop, but it is certainly the pleasing result of work by an inventive amateur, and any shortcomings it may have are counterbalanced here by Hammer's fine printing and the scarcity of the book.

Add to Cart Price: $5,500.00

PJP Catalog: 73.219