Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2012 Issue

Ashendene Press Works from Sophie Schneideman Rare Books

Schneidemanash2012

The Ashendene Press collection.

Sophie Schneideman Rare Books is offering a catalogue of The Ashendene Press Collection of Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. We will get to Ashendene in a moment. Clarence Hanson was a newspaperman, publisher of the Birmingham (Alabama) News. He was also a Vice President of the Associated Press and involved in numerous civic organizations. And, he was one more thing – a book collector. He collected primarily during the 1960s and 1970s, and his specialty was private presses. At one time he owned two Kelmscott Chaucers, probably the greatest and most valuable private press book ever published. Kelmscott, Doves, and Ashendene were his major collections.

The Ashendene Press was operated by Charles Harry St. John Hornby for the 40 years of its existence (1895-1935). Hornby began his printing career right at the end of William Morris and his Kelmscott Press' career. His lasted far longer. After an average start, Hornby's skills quickly progressed, and within a few years, he had earned the reputation that would put him very close to the top of private presses ever. He operated the press only with the help of family, and later a pressman. However, this is not terribly surprising, as he only published about a book a year (and various smaller items), and his press runs were often only double figures, sometimes low double figures, or maybe low triple digits. After 40 years, Hornby published a bibliography of his books, and bid his followers goodbye. However, over the years, the Ashendene books, collectible from the day they were printed, have only grown in value. Here are some of the items from Clarence Hanson's collection.

Where better to start than the beginning? Item 1 is the first book to come off of the Ashendene Press: The Journal of Joseph Hornby, February-March 1815. That common surname is explained by this being the journal of the printer's grandfather, who had the much easier to remember name of “Joe,” rather than “Charles Harry St. John.” Grandpa went traveling to Brussels and Paris just as Napoleon was plotting his escape from Elba. Unfortunately, the journal ends just before Bonaparte's return for one last tango in Paris, so we miss the excitement. This was certainly not Hornby's finest production. Hornby would later write, “The press-work of this book is of exceedingly poor quality...” Nevertheless, this was his first book, and as every book collector knows, nothing compares to a first. Published in 1895. £3,500 (British pounds, or approximately $5,483 U.S. Dollars).

Ashendene never had any long press runs, but this one was ridiculous. Who would go to the trouble of preparing an exceptional book and then print just 16 copies? St. John Hornby, evidently. Item 8 is Two Essays of Francis, Lord Bacon: Of Building and Gardens. This is copy number 15 of 16 of a book printed in 1897. This was his shortest run for a book (excluding minor pieces). Hornby later remarked that he could not say why so few copies were printed, he regretted not printing more, but at least the very short run made for “good sport for collectors.” £7,500 (US $11,750).

Ashendene was noted for beautiful books, but occasionally they would outdo even themselves. In 1902, Hornby published an edition of The Song of Songs which is Solomon's. Many of Ashendene's books were not illustrated, but this one was more than illustrated. It was illuminated. This book was illuminated by the master calligrapher Florence Kingsford. Each copy, and a total of 40 were printed, contains different illustrations. This one includes leopards, lions, peacocks, song birds, rabbits, chameleons, lizards, frogs, snakes, antelope, parrots, flowers and oranges. Each copy was bound by a woman binder, this one having been bound by Florence Paget, a student of Douglas Cockerell. Item 14. £45,000 (US $70,495).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions