A Wide Array of Items from The Veatchs Arts of the Book

- by Michael Stillman


A Wide Array of Items from The Veatchs Arts of the Book

The Veatchs Arts of the Book has released their latest selection, Catalogue 97. New Acquisitions, Including Bindings, Color Printing, Paper Specimens, and Typography. There are a few more categories that can be added here, such as artwork, original poetry, private press, bibliography, marbling, type specimens, more than can comfortably fit in a title. You can find just about anything that fits within the heading “books arts.” These are a few selections.


I guess you could say that Karli lost her marbles. From the Netherlands comes Karli Frigge's latest book, The Magic of Marbling, published in 2020. She is an expert in the age-old art of marbling, but adds a new touch to it, with patterns that go well beyond those of traditional marbling. It includes several that are what she calls “dear mistakes,” patterns unintended that turned out to be pleasant surprises. As for losing her marbles, the book contains 58 specimens of her marbling interspersed between the textual instructions and tips. Item 24. Priced at $900.


The Marchbanks Press operated from New York during the first half of the twentieth century. Their work was in that in-between area, part standard printing, part private press quality. Joseph Blumenthal cut his printing teeth there in the early 1920s before forming the Spiral Press. Allen Lewis was an artist, illustrator, commissioned bookplate creator during this time period. His artistic talents were considerable, though he never quite reached the fame of some of his contemporaries. In 1923, the Marchbanks Press issued some seasonal posters as promotions. It appears likely they issued them for all seasons though this is unclear. One for which they certainly did was fall. Item 30 is a poster Lewis created for the Marchbanks Press for the fall season. In darker tones appropriate for the coming of winter, it features a woman holding a child. A closer look reveals that the child's hat is actually the top of an acorn, while the woman's hat is made from oak leaves. It is quite a clever piece for the fall. $225.


This item comes from Officina Bodoni of Venice, but it features the work of a Welsh poet. Welsh poet probably makes you think of Dylan Thomas, and if so, you got this one right. It is a fine press collection of Twenty-Six Poems, published in 1949 (actually, in 1950). This is #128 of 140 signed copies on handmade paper. Numbers 11-60 were offered for sale in Great Britain, 61-150 in America. This is one of the earlier issue American copies. However, there were also ten copies printed on Japanese vellum and these probably beat the American issue by a couple of days. Item 51. $4,750.


From Venice we travel to San Francisco for another fine press. This was the Allen Press, operated by Lewis and Dorothy Allen. This private press opened in 1939 and continued all the way to the 1990s. This was their first, The Trail of Beauty, published in 1940. It was a family affair. The author was Harris Stearns Allen, Lewis' father. The illustration was provided by William Gaston, a noted artist who happened to be Lewis' brother-in-law. This sounds like a good way of keeping expenses down when you are just starting out. It was printed in a run of 100 copies, on handmade paper using Piranesi type. It is a flourished italic type. The Allens gave copies to friends and other printers, including John Henry Nash. Nash responded that he enjoyed the text but the Piranesi type should be ditched in the deepest part of San Francisco bay. Item 3. $1,000.


Here is an unusual item – Harvard B. A. Diploma 1813-2000, from J. F. Coakley. Coakley analyzes the diplomas in terms of design, calligraphy, and engraving, along with reasons for changes and the people involved. A rear pocket contains six diplomas, originals from 1935 and 1962, restrikes from original plates for 1813 and 1903, and two reprints. The two originals have had fictitious names imprinted in case someone plans to use them to fool an employer. Sorry. The original restrikes don't, but since they are from 1813 and 1903, well... There were 50 copies printed at Jericho Press, the author's private press. Item 16. $900.


German native Gunnar Kaldewey recognized that California is a world of its own. He produced this book, California Time, at his Kaldewey Press in 1987. It features a double spread illustration of the Pacific coast in shimmering blue and silver on translucent paper. It is bound in string-tied plexiglass covers. California is different. Writes Kaldewey, “What is happening here is a creation of a separate culture. Without a strong tradition, far from Europe and Asia, something new is developing here. It is now in its primary stage: California time.” Item 27. $1,500.


The Veatchs Arts of the Book can be reached at 716-648-0361 or veatchs@veatchs.com. Their website is www.veatchs.com.