The Veatchs Arts of the Book recently issued their Catalogue 79. Their specialty is books as art, books notable for their beauty. Among those offered in this selection are books that first introduced two of the most notable 20th century typefaces, Bruce Rogers' Centaur type in Maurice de Guerin's The Centaur, and Frederic Warde's Arrighi in Robert Bridges' The Tapestry. Here are a few more of the selections you will find.
We start with a book that takes us back to the early days of writing: The Origin and Progress of Writing, as well Hieroglyphic as Elementary. The author is Thomas Astle, the Keeper of Records at the British Museum, with the year of publication for this second (expanded) edition being 1803. The Veatchs describe this as “the first major English work of paleography,” paleography being the study of ancient writing. The plates (some hand colored) display numerous forms of ancient writing and alphabets, such as Phoenician, Greek, Celtic, and Franco-Teutonic. Astle believed printing originated in China, likely the case, though not with moveable type. The text is printed in English, Latin, and Greek. This is a rare large paper copy of this folio book, which allows the plates to lie flat. Item 3. Priced at $1,500.
Item 59 is another first, “the first major American bookbinding manual.” It is A Manual of the Art of Bookbinding, by James B. Nicholson, a first edition published in 1856. Binding machinery is illustrated. The work encompasses Charles Woolnough's 1853 manual on marbling. $650.
Next comes yet another first, and it comes in a 1926 publication on behalf of Cleveland's Rowfant Club. This was the first separate edition of Rudyard Kipling's On Dry-Cow Fishing as a Fine Art. It was originally published in The Fishing Gazette in 1890, but never published separately. It is a short story. Seems Kipling was a fisherman, and one day while about to cast his line, he instead hooked a cow in the ear on his back swing. The cow was displeased and ran. Kipling, unwilling to surrender his fishing pole, chased after her. He had no knife to cut the sturdy line. He eventually found himself in a herd of cows she joined, still clinging to his pole. As she rested, a wary Kipling, one eye watching the cow and the other the pole for any signs of movement, began biting the line, finally chewing his way through. He had his pole, and the cow had a hook and 20 feet of line. Offered is number 97 of 176 copies. Ornaments and drawings were provided by Bruce Rogers. Item 65. $950.
Item 67 is Mr. Rogers' masterpiece: The Odyssey of Homer. Newly Translated into English by T. E. Shaw. “T. E. Shaw” was a not very well disguised pseudonym for T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Rogers convinced him to take part in the project. This work is generally regarded as Rogers at his finest, combining his design skills and his newly created Centaur type. He brought in 81-year-old Emery Walker, a generation or two earlier an associate of William Morris, and for a few years a partner in Doves Press, to assist with the printing. The Odyssey was published in 1932 in a run of 530 copies. $6,000.
Nature printing had a brief run of popularity in the 1850's. The process involved using a specimen itself to create an impression in a plate, from which images could be printed. Plant material, leaves in particular, were a favorite subject as flat, thin items are easiest to use. Item 4 is Die Entdeckung Des Naturselbstdruckes... by Alois Auer, published in Vienna in 1854. In England, Henry Bradbury was noted for the process, though Auer claimed authorship. The title translates to “The Invention of the Nature Printing Process.” Along with leaves and flowers, Auer also nature printed a fish skeleton, fossils, a bat wing, and a snake skin. Item 4. $5,500.