Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue
Recent Acquisitions at The Veatchs Arts of the Book
By Michael Stillman
The Veatchs Arts of the Book has released Catalogue 66: Recent Acquisitions. These are books noted for their artistic qualities, be it external, such as bindings, paper quality, gilt, etc., or internal, in terms of color images and lettering, unusual typefaces, woodcuts and such. Many of these books were designed to be works of art, particularly the more recent editions. Others were not so much meant to be artistic as they just turned out that way. Here are some samples of these artistic new acquisitions.
Item 11 is an early work of color printing: The Pictorial Album; or Cabinet of Paintings for the Year 1837, by George Baxter. Baxter was an English artist and printer who devised one of the first commercially viable means of color printing. His first color printings came around 1830, and in 1835 he obtained a patent for his process. Much of it involved the use of woodblocks inked in various colors, lined up carefully to avoid problems with registration. This book has been described as the first English book printed in colors intended to appeal to a popular audience. Ultimately, Baxter's work was very beautiful, but never very successful financially. Baxter was meticulous in his work, requiring much labor to complete. Priced at $1,750.
Item 12 is a look back at Baxter half a century after he died: H.G. Baxter Colour Prints, Pictorially Presented. This set by H.G. Clarke, published by Maggs in 1920-21, contains 136 plates (all but one in black and white) with descriptions and interleaved with articles about Baxter's plates. It also includes a chronology of his work, and an accounting of the disposal of his plates and blocks in the 1860s, along with the names of the purchasers. The financial shortcomings of his business caught up with him in the 1860s and he was forced to sell what he could, finally declaring bankruptcy two years before he died. $250.
Item 1 is one of the great bibliographies of color plate books: Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860. A Bibliographical Catalogue. The author was Major John R. Abbey, and he would have been an ideal writer for this subject, as he had owned one of the largest collections of color plate books ever assembled. Abbey had inherited a brewery from his father, which was a more financially successful enterprise than publishing these books as Baxter had done. Evidently beer is in greater demand than color plate books, at least in England. Abbey sold his color plate collection in 1954 to one of the great American collectors, Paul Mellon, and then published this bibliography in 1956-57. $800.
Here are a couple of lovely books about less than lovely topics by Miriam Macgregor. These two are the bane of all gardeners. Item 59 is Predators in My Garden. This 1993 miniature book includes hand colored wood engravings and descriptions of various insects. $115. Item 60 is Weeds in My Garden, a 1986 miniature with hand colored engravings. $125. Each book is a signed limited edition.