Recent Acquisitions from the Veatchs Arts of the Book

- by Michael Stillman


Recent Acquisitions from the Veatchs Arts of the Book

The Veatchs Arts of the Book has published their Catalogue 92. Recent Acquisitions for Fall/Winter 2019 offering Fine Printing & Binding and Interesting Typography. Long titles have the benefit of making it unnecessary to come up with a description of the material, which can be hard to do with varied works. Suffice it to say that the fine and interesting material is artistic in nature, illustrations or typography being featured more than text. Here are a few selections.


We will begin with a beginning, the first book from the Nonesuch Press. The Nonesuch Press was formed in 1922 and published its first book a year later. Its founder was Francis Meynall, later Sir Francis Meynall, and he shared a couple of things in common with his predecessor and inspiration of the private press movement, William Morris. Meynall loved fine printing and was an ardent socialist. However, once he had tested his books on a small hand press, he sent them out to other printers who could produce books in volume. Consequently, his press runs were larger than Morris' Kelmscott Press. This first book was printed by the Oxford University Press. Its title is The Love Poems of John Donne, with some account of his life taken from the writings in 1639 of Izaak Walton, published in 1923 in a print run of 1,250 copies. Donne didn't get any royalties from this book, the English poet having died in 1631, but he he did get some added remembrance. The Nonesuch Press continued in operation until the 1960s, publishing in excess of 140 books during its run. Item 50. Priced at $1,500.


Next up is Fourteen Americans: Woodcuts by Antonio Frasconi, published in 1974. Frasconi was raised in Uruguay, but as a young man, after the Second World War, he resettled in America. After a stint at an art museum doing non-artist chores, his skills producing woodcuts were soon recognized. His career would become that of an artist who worked in wood. Frasconi was also a man who greatly admired other personalities, some in the arts, others in unrelated fields. Those sentiments are reflected in the people portrayed in these woodcuts, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Albert Einstein, Sacco & Venzetti, Charles Ives, Woody Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly), Charles Mingus, Sioux Chief, Kiowa Chief, Northern Cheyenne Chief, Cesar Chavez, Malcolm X, and George Jackson. Some portraits are in color, some fit on a full page, others bleed off the edge. This is #3 of 5 signed copies. Item 25. $7,000.


This book is considered among the few very best private press works ever produced in America. It is a 1979 edition of Moby-Dick, or the Whale, by Herman Melville. As with Donne, Melville was not around to collect royalties. Those would have gone to the artist, wood engraver Barry Moser. Moser is the noted artist and printer, operator of the Pennyroyal Press. However, this one came from San Francisco's Arion Press. Arion was created by Andrew Hoyem, previously of the legendary Grabhorn Press, after that press closed. The book took a year to complete, and, as the Veatchs say, it is “one of the most celebrated 20th century American private press books.” It was printed in a limited edition of 265 copies. Moser created 100 wood engravings for the book, which he credited as bringing his work to the attention of the public. Item 1. $22,000.


This one comes from the Pennyroyal Press. It is a broadside printing of the alphabet, from 1986. This was not as easy to make as ABC. It is a calligraphic alphabet designed by Yvette Rutledge. It was printed in 27 colors, the colors slowly changing from letter to letter. It required 27 print runs and I can't imagine what that was like to keep in register. Pennyroyal described it as “a true masterpiece of printing” and I will give them credit for achieving their claim. The image is 17 x 14 on a sheet 21 ½ x 16 ¾. It was published in 1983 and is signed by Rutledge, printer Harold McGrath, and Barry Moser. No. 29 of 183 copies. Item 53. $480.


Here is one that will appeal to everyone, even the children. Item 49 is Handmade Paper in Motion. It consists of 14 examples of paper that have been engineered into pop-ups and other moveables, each in a printed folder. The paper was designed specifically for each work. Twenty-eight book artists and papermakers combined their talents to produce these works for a show. Many are signed by the artist, and there is a 40-page book which accompanies the art which includes their biographies. The works were created in a limited edition of 150 copies, published in 2010. $695.


The Veatchs Arts of the Book can be reached at 716-648-0361 or Their website is