The Veatchs Arts of the Book has released their Catalogue 80. The Veatchs focus on books about books and the book arts. This selection is particularly focused on the artistic aspects. Most items are artistic in one of two ways – the physical books are themselves works or art, or the illustrations, typesetting, coloring, etc. inside are works of art. Either way, these are books that that are far more than respositories of text. These are not candidates for conversion to e-books. If all other types of books eventually become no more than electronic impulses (hopefully not), these will still have to be printed. Here are a few examples.
We start with a major work from the Gehenna Press, The Gehenna Florilegium, published in 1998. It combines the poetry of Anthony Hecht with the art of Leonard Baskin. Baskin was a notable artist, illustrator, sculptor, and wood engraver. He was able to reach the public with his art by opening his own private press, the Gehenna Press, while still a young man. He continued to operate it for another 58 years, the remainder of his life, while also creating numerous artworks outside of the press. Baskin had created a series of floral woodcuts, each employing at least three colors, with a total of over 30 colors used to produce them all. He then called on Hecht to write 16 poems to accompany each of his floral scenes. Item 28 is one of 50 numbered copies signed by Baskin and Hecht. A binding appropriate for the work was created by Claudia Cohen. Priced at $7,000.
Speaking of the Gehenna Press, item 10 is a bibliography of its work, at least the first 50 years worth: The Gehenna Press. The Work of Fifty Years 1942-1992. It was written by Leonard Baskin and his son, Hosea Baskin, and published in 1992. This is one of 50 deluxe copies, specially bound, and signed by Leonard Baskin. $1,100.
Since we started with a floral book, here is one about something similar: Fleurons, Their Place in History & in Print. This is the work of Mark Arman, one of 170 signed copies, published in 1988. Fleurons are those flower-like ornamental designs often seen in books, frequently around borders. Undoubtedly, many people were unaware of their name, or perhaps that there even was one for them. They are just sort of there on decorative books. Arman's book includes several examples in various colors printed on parchment. Item 6. $300.
Next we have a combination of a great work of writing, illustrations by a notable artist, and a major first for the book publishing world. Item 41 is a 1928 edition of Voltaire's classic, Candide. The biting satire is as entertaining today as it was over two and one-half centuries ago when Voltaire made fun of Leibnitz' everything-is-for-the-best philosophy. Voltaire was not so optimistic. This edition features the illustrations of Rockwell Kent, the noted artist and one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century. This is number 23 of 95 copies (from a total run of 1,470) with the illustrations hand-colored and the book signed by Kent. Kent had been commissioned by humorist and publisher Bennett Cerf to illustrate the first book to be printed by his new publishing firm. That firm was Random House, now one of the largest publishers in the world. It also sports the first appearance of the drawing of a house that has become Random House's distinctive symbol, one you undoubtedly recognize. Kent created it for this book, and it was recently revealed by Paul LeClerk, past President of the New York Public Library, that this was meant to represent the house in which Candide lived out his days cultivating his garden. $2,000.