The Garden Copy, One of 85 Specials with Eight Engravings from the Original Blocks


(Wellingborough: Christopher Skelton, 1983). 349 x 267 mm. (13 3/4 x 10 1/2"). Two volumes plus portfolio. No. 4 OF 85 SPECIAL COPIES printed on archival rag paper (and 1,350 copies of the ordinary edition.).

Publisher's deluxe biscuit-colored morocco over reddish-brown linen, flat spines with gilt titling. In the original slipcase. Profusely illustrated with more than 1,000 reproductions of Gill's works; THIS SPECIAL COPY ACCOMPANIED BY A PORTFOLIO OF EIGHT ENGRAVINGS PRINTED DIRECTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL WOODBLOCKS. Front pastedowns with bookplate of Haven O'More, the Garden Collection. ◆In pristine condition.

This is the deluxe copy of a comprehensive survey of Gill's work as an engraver and typecutter, prepared as a labor of love by his nephew, Christopher Skelton. Glaister describes Eric Gill (1882-1940) as "an English craftsman, engraver, type designer, sculptor, and philosopher whose influence on contemporary book production has been profound and world-wide." Gill studied lettering as a young man under Edward Johnston, then for five years, beginning in 1905, designed and engraved title pages and initials for books printed by Count Harry Kessler at Insel Verlag, Leipzig (Kessler would go on to found the Cranach Press in 1913). Later, Gill did a great deal of woodcut illustration for other private press publications, especially the Golden Cockerel Press (including memorable work for the famous "Four Gospels," "Troilus and Criseyde," and "Canterbury Tales").

The 993 illustrations in the body of the present offering and the 51 in the appendix include all of the wood engravings from those works, as well as Gill's other book illustrations, individual engravings, typefaces, Christmas cards, and bookplates. The subjects, for the most part, are either religious or erotic--and sometimes, controversially, both. The portfolio prints are "A Garden Enclosed," "Self-portrait," "Surrexit Alleluia," "Tree and Dog with Flames," "St. Thomas's Hands," "Girl with a Mirror," "I Am a Little World," and "Man and Woman Embracing." Skelton (1925-92) learned printing from Gill's son-in-law René Hague, and operated a private press from 1968 to 1985. This is the magnum opus of that workshop.

This copy comes from the Garden Collection, assembled by Haven O'More with funding from Michael Davis, which was the most outstanding library of notable books put together in America in the second half of the 20th century. When it was auctioned by Sotheby's in 1989, the sale brought in $16.2 million. The library included high spots from all periods (the four Shakespeare folios, the first of "Don Quixote," and Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" brought in more than $5 million alone), and the collection was breathtaking in its impeccable condition.

Price: $1,950.00