(London: [Printed at the Ballantyne Press for] Vale Press, 1901-02). 237 x 140 mm (9 5/8 x 5 5/8"). Three volumes. ONE OF 300 COPIES on paper (and 10 on vellum.).
Original cream buckram, gilt titling to spines, all but three quires in one volume UNOPENED. Fine elaborate woodcut initials and four pages with intricate borders, by Charles Ricketts. Four-page ad for Vale Press publications laid in at front of volume I; Tokyo bookseller's ticket on front pastedowns. Ransom p. 436; Tomkinson, p. 170. Spine a little darkened, minor smudges to a couple of boards, occasional mild marginal foxing, one free endpaper torn, small light brown stain to fore-edge of three quires, other trivial defects, but an excellent copy internally, generally clean, fresh, and bright, in the sturdy original bindings.
This is a beautifully printed, almost entirely unopened work from one of the great private presses. The Vale Press was founded--and closely supervised by--Charles Ricketts, who was perhaps the most significant figure in the private press movement after William Morris. From 1896-1903, Ricketts ran the Vale Press, which produced books that in Cave's words were "far truer to the spirit of fifteenth-century printing than Kelmscott work." The Press issued nearly 50 titles, and both its impressive output and considerable artistic success can be attributed to the fact that Ricketts, who was remarkably skilled as a designer, painter, and illustrator, was in control of every facet of the operation. Tomkinson observes that "although the actual printing was done on the premises of the Ballantyne Press, the Vale books were built entirely on Mr. Ricketts' design under his personal supervision on a press set apart for his sole use; the founts, decorations, illustrations (including the engraving on the wood), watermarks, and pagination were all the work of Mr. Ricketts, and it is doubtful if, in the history of printing, books have been made which reflect the invention and work of one man more explicitly than do the Vale books." (ST14418)
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