Fine Printings, Bindings, and Other Book Arts from the Veatchs

- by Michael Stillman

Veatchs73

Fine Printings, Bindings, and Other Book Arts from the Veatchs

The Veatchs Arts of the Book has issued their Catalogue 73. Fine Printings, Bindings, & Other Book Arts. This presents a new selection of works in the field of the book arts, or books as art. There are no “reading copies” here; most of these books weren't really meant to be read. They were intended to be appreciated for their beauty, even if they do tell a story or two along the way. Here are some selections from the latest offerings of the Veatchs.

Item 44 presents an exceptional look at The Nature Printed British Sea-Weeds. This book by William Grosart Johnstone and Alexander Croall, published in four volumes from 1859-1860, features the nature printing process of Henry Bradbury. Bradbury developed a process of placing botanical specimens between a hard metal plate and a soft one to create something of a three-dimensional effect. The algae images were then printed in various color shades to reproduce nature – red, brown, green, pink, purple and grey. Sometimes, multiple colors were used. The sea-weeds “are herein reproduced with all fidelity to structure, character and tint of the originals. The most crystalline water could scarcely more delicately float these lace-like trophies of the Garden of the Sea than do their pages.” That is from the authors' preface, which might not be the most objective place to look for a description of the images, but it is a reasonable one in this case. Priced at $2,500.

From botanical we go to zoological specimens - A Study of Dinosaurs on the Comparative Method or Comparative Dinosaurs for Students, Amateurs, Fanciers and Breeders. Dinosaur breeders? This humorous work is the creation of “H.J. Mudwinkle,” but perhaps we should focus more on the illustrations of Peter Foster. This 1986 item is a miniature book, but it comes with a set of loose engravings. This is one 35 deluxe issues of an edition of 175. The “dinosaurs” of this book are actually horned beetles. Item 79. $400.

Item 10 comes from the multi-talented artist/sculptor/printer Leonard Baskin, and his Gehenna Press. What better way to put your art before the public then to operate your own fine press? The item is Birds & Animals, and it was published in 1974. This copy includes 66 prints though the prospectus calls for 65. Of these, 64 are signed by Baskin. According to the prospectus, only 5 copies were to have each print signed. This is an unbound binder's copy. Apparently, not all sets were bound or sold. The signed ones were offered for $2,500 when printed in 1974. $9,800.