"May blessings be upon the head of Cadmus, the Phoenicians, or whoever it was that invented books." -Thomas Carlyle
Welcome to my virtual book collection. Since collecting actual books is somewhat cost-prohibitive, I've begun to amass all of the books I would love to have if I had the means. Some are new, lots are old, all are unique or beautiful or unusual or in some other way have captured my fancy. Enjoy browsing!
Special Collections: Fine Bindings ~ Fairies and Fairy Tales ~ Terror and Madness ~ Poetry ~ Food, Drink and Apothecary ~ Science Fiction ~ Illuminations, Lettering and Hand-Coloring ~ Magic ~ Supernatural and Occult ~ Alchemy ~ Science and Technical ~ Maritime ~ Costumes ~ Humor ~ Children's books ~ Legend of King Arthur ~ Americana ~ 18th Century ~ 19th Century Authors and illustrators: Edgar Allan Poe ~ Jules Verne ~ Edmund Dulac ~ Kay Nielsen ~ Arthur Rackham ~ Edward Gorey ~ Charles Dickens ~ H.P. Lovecraft ~ William Hope Hodgson ~ Mark Twain ~ Lewis Carroll ~ Salvador Dali ~ George Cruikshank ~ Emily Dickinson ~ Geoffrey Chaucer ~ H.G. Wells
Mock Beggar Hall
Robert Graves. Hogarth Press. 1924.
First Edition. Original dark grey boards, the imposing overall front cover design is by William Nicholson and printed in black, Simon Nowell-Smith’s book label, untrimmed.
O, why judge Myrrhina
As though she were a man?
She obeys a dark wisdom
(As Eve did before her)
Which never can fail,
Being bound by no pride
Of armorial bearings
Bequeathed in tail male.
And though your blood brother
Who dared to do you wrong
In his greed of Myrrhina
Might plead a like wisdom
The fault to excuse.
Myrrhina is just,
She has hanged the vain rogue
By the neck from her noose.
So Here Then is the Last Ride
Robert Browning. The Roycrofters, NY, 1900.
One of 25 copies on vellum, finely bound. Hand-colored pictorial borders illumined by Harriet Robarge. Finely bound in full plum levant morocco, spine lettered in gilt, raised bands, wrap-around strapping designs in blind on covers and spine, gilt-rolled double rule on board edges, full morocco front doublure in cream, blue, turquoise, plum, and green leathers in an elaborate in-laid design with decorative gilt stamping, title in gilt at center, rear full morocco doublure in a less elaborate design, silk endleaves, top edge gilt.
What does it all mean, poet? Well,
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you expressed
You hold things beautiful the best,
And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
‘Tis something, nay ‘tis much: but then,
Have you yourself what’s best for men?
Are you—-poor, sick, old ere your time—-
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turned a rhyme?
Sing, riding’s a joy! For me, I ride.
~Stanze VII, The Last Ride Together
Prufrock and Other Observations,
T.S. Eliot. The Egoist Press, 1917.
First Edition, limited to 500 copies. Some spotting, from the Library of Henry Graham Dakyns, publisher’s wrappers (detached), spine a little browned and rubbed [Gallup A1], 8vo, T
“As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden…” I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.”
George T. McWhorter, translator. Lexington, Ky.: King Library Press, 1975.
Casebound in boards covered with green and white marbled paper and with a matching dust jacket.
George T. McWhorter’s translation of the Anglo-Saxon lyric poem known as “The Seafarer”: the original was recorded in the famous Exeter Book, the 10th-century anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry. This edition was printed in only 100 copies in Hammer Samson uncial type accomplished in black and red, with “composition / presswork / binding by David Oldham, Carolyn Whitesel, and Sallie Ruff (apprentices to Carolyn Hammer and Margaret Williams)” as per the colophon. The medieval birds on the title-page, cover, and wrapper were drawn by Calvert Guthrie.
B-A Note: Originally penned in the Anglo-Saxon in the 10th century, this poem has been translated numerous times by numerous people, including Ezra Pound. I am unable to find an online version of McWhorter’s translation, so the excerpt below is from a 1982 translation by Jonathan A. Glenn, with annotations.
About myself I can utter a truth-song,
tell journeys—how I in toil-days
torment-time often endured,
abode and still do bitter breast-care,
sought in my ship many a care-hall,
horrible waves’ rolling, where narrow night-watch
often has kept me at the ship’s stem
when it dashes by cliffs. Pinched by the cold
were my feet, bound by frost’s
frozen fetters, where those cares sighed
hot about heart; hunger within tore
the mind of the sea-weary one.
Songs by Ben Jonson: A Selection from the Plays, Masques, and Poems, with the Earliest Known Settings of Certain Numbers
Ben Jonson. Eragny Press, London, 1906.
Printed in red and black on vellum. Colored frontispiece, border and initials by Lucien Pissarro, engraved by Esther Pissarro. Small 8vo, gilt-lettered red calf with gilt leaf design on turn-ins, by Blackwell, joints starting, upper tips bumped. Norman J. Sondheim bookplate. Dedication Copy. One of only ten copies on vellum.
Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell
Though I am young, and cannot tell
Either what Death or Love is well,
Yet I have heard they both bear darts,
And both do aim at human hearts.
And then again, I have been told
Love wounds with heat, as Death with cold;
So that I fear they do but bring
Extremes to touch, and mean one thing.
As in a ruin we it call
One thing to be blown up, or fall;
Or to our end like way may have
By a flash of lightning, or a wave;
So Love’s inflamèd shaft or brand
May kill as soon as Death’s cold hand;
Except Love’s fires the virtue have
To fight the frost out of the grave.
The Stone Beloved: Six Poems from Dante Alighieri.
Translated by Harry Duncan. Lithographs by Peter Nickel. Kairos Press, AThens, 1986.
Folio, gilt-lettered 1/4 vellum over boards; slipcase. number 11 of 150 signed by nickel.
~ Amor, che movi tua vertú da cielo = Love, who move your might from sky
~Io son venuto al punto de la rota = I come to that point on the wheel
~Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra = To small day circled by great shadow
~Amor, tu vedi ben che questa donna = Love, you can plainly see this woman
~Così nel mio parlar voglio esser aspro = I want my words to be as fierce
~Amor, da che convien pur ch’io mi doglia = Love, it is time to tell my hurt.
John Dryden: The Works
Jacob Tonson, 1701.
Vol. III only, title in red and black, some small worming in lower margins, a few tears, browned, bookplate of Augustine Fitzgerald on front pastedown, bound in a contemporary panelled Irsh binding, gilt stamp: “Col. Augustine Fitzgerald 1769” on upper cover. (Fitzgerald family of Carton House, near Dublin.)
SONG FROM AMPHITRYON
FAIR Iris I love, and hourly I die,
But not for a lip, nor a languishing eye:
She’s fickle and false, and there we agree,
For I am as false and as fickle as she.
We neither believe what either can say;
And, neither believing, we neither betray.
‘Tis civil to swear, and say things of course;
We mean not the taking for better or worse.
When present, we love; when absent, agree:
I think not of Iris, nor Iris of me.
The legend of love no couple can find,
So easy to part, or so equally join’d.
Four Poems of the Occult
Yvan Goll. Image art by Pablo Picasso. Allen Press, Kentfield, 1962.
One of 130 unnumbered sets printed and designed by Lewis and Dorothy Allen.
4 lithographed plates by Picasso, 3 by Tanguy, 8 wood-engraved plates by Arp, and 6 reproductions of drawings by Leger; decorations by Mallette Dean, and hand-colored initials. Folio, 401x208 mm; 16x11 inches, comprises five fascicles, each laid into tan cloth chemise and slipcase.
Contents: Book 1. Goll & his illustrators.—book 2. The magic circles, translated by C. Goll & E. Sellin, illustrated by Fernand Léger.—book 3. Elegy of Ihpetonga, translated by B. Deutsch, L. Bogan & C. Goll, illustrated by Pablo Picasso.—book 4. The myth of the pierced rock, translated by L. Bogan, illustrated by Yves Tanguy.—book 5. Multiple woman, translated by F. Carmody, illustrated by Jean Arp.
Sylvia Plath. Turret Books, 1968.
First edition, one of 180 copies, frontispiece and one other woodcut illustration, original cloth, 4to.
I am slow as the world. I am very patient,
Turning through my time, the suns and stars
Regarding me with attention.
The moon’s concern is more personal:
She passes and repasses, luminous as a nurse.
Is she sorry for what will happen? I do not think so.
She is simply astonished at fertility.
When I walk out, I am a great event.
I do not have to think, or even rehearse.
What happens in me will happen without attention.
The pheasant stands on the hill;
He is arranging his brown feathers.
I cannot help smiling at what it is I know.
Leaves and petals attend me. I am ready.
-First two stanzas
Doctor Syntax in Paris, or, A tour in search of the grotesque
[Combe, William?] London: Printed for W. Wright, 1820.
A humorous & satirical poem. 8vo. viii, 318 pp., 17 ff. of plates.
Depending on one’s take, this is either an imitation or a parody of Combe’s Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, and is either by Combe himself or not. Halkett & Laing attribute the work to Combe, but other sources are less sure — e.g., Harlan W. Hamilton (Doctor Syntax, 1969, p. 318), who lists it as one of the many imitations.
There is no disagreement concerning the17 full-page aquatints and the aquatint title-page, which are in imitation of Rowlandson and are by Charles Williams.
The Muse has in historic page,
Sung how the glory of the age,
Great Syntax, first of learned men,
Left the sweet vale of Somerden,
And scanned with aspect keen and able,
The wonders of the Londan Babel;
How with ambition fired he strove
His matchless tragic powers to prove,
In giving to the stage a piece
Worthy of ancient Rome or Greece,
And how, alas! this tasteless age
Repaid the labour of the sage,
With rude damnation’s wild uproar,
And doomed to that forgotten shore,
Whence never play nor bard returned
The verse that spoke and page that burned.
Walter Scott. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable & Co., and Hurst, Robinson, & Co. (pr. by James Ballantyne), 1820.
Beautiful edition of gathered verses by Sir Walter Scott, containing “The Bridal of Triermain,” “Harold the Dauntless,” “William and Helen,” and what the advertisement calls “all the Smaller Pieces, collected for the first time in the recent edition of the Author’s Poems” — decorated with a fore-edge painting.
Binding: Contemporary maroon straight-grain morocco framed in wide gilt border and panelled in gilt single fillet, spine with gilt-stamped title and decorations, board edges (at corners) and turn-ins with gilt roll. All edges gilt.
B-A Note: This is one of simpler and more lovely fore-edge paintings that I’ve seen.
Or stage-struck Juliet may presume
To choose this bower for tyring-room ;
And we alike must shun regard
From painter, player, sportsman, bard.
Insects that skim in Fashion’s sky,
Wasp, blue-bottle, or butterfly,
Lucy, have all alarms for us,
For all can hum and all can buzz.
- The Bridal of Triermain
Severnye Tsvety na 1831 god. [Northern Flowers for the Year 1831.]
PUSHKIN, Alexander Sergeevich. St. Petersburg: Dept. of Public Education, 1830.
16° (122 x 100mm). Additional engraved title, and two leaves of musical notation, illustrated with two lithographed plate (perhaps without one plate once bound before p.101). Contemporary Russian binding with red morocco spine, white silk sides with richly gilt frame and allegorical scenes onlaid in red morocco gilt, white silk endpapers with gilt turn-ins.
First edition in a highly ornate and unusual contemporary Russian binding. One of the most famous 19th-century Russian almanacs, first edited by Pushkin’s great friend Delvig. Poems by Pushkin in this volume include: Poemu (Sonet), Otvet anonimu, Monastyr na Kazbek, Otryvok, and Obal; a third part, also present here but not listed by Smirnov-Sokol’skii, includes Pushkin’s Sobranie Nasekomykh, and a number of pieces by Glinka. Kilgour 1049; Smirnov-Sokol’skii 67.
High, o’er the family of tops, lead,
Kazbek, your royal dome’s spread,
And shines with timeless beams around.
Your cloister, hidden behind clouds,
Like some ark of the heaven-land,
Glides, vaguely seen over the mounds.
Oh, distant and desired strand!
There, saying ‘farewell’ to the gorges,
To lift self to the free abode –
Into the cell o’er clouds, gorgeous,
Into the neighborhood of God!…
Monastyr na Kazbek, translated by Yevgeny Bonver.
Poe, Edgar Allan. Livre d’Art by D’Ambrosio, 1995.
The text is printed letterpress and is printed in black and purple with woodcut backgrounds in various colors, several pages with embossed margins. Trapezoidal shape binding in quarter blue morocco and mirrored panel boards, housed with the original trapezoidal 2 part display stand and cover with further mirrored paneling. No. 27 of 50 hand-made copies.
Signed in pencil by D’Ambrosio on the title page. An intricate and unusual binding with the boards of the book becoming a part of the display box when assembled.
O! NOTHING earthly save the ray
(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty’s eye,
As in those gardens where the day
Springs from the gems of Circassy—
O! nothing earthly save the thrill
Of melody in woodland rill—
Or (music of the passion-hearted)
Joy’s voice so peacefully departed
That like the murmur in the shell,
Its echo dwelleth and will dwell—
Oh, nothing of the dross of ours—
Yet all the beauty—all the flowers
That list our Love, and deck our bowers—
Adorn yon world afar, afar—
The wandering star.
Reynard the Fox,
John Masefield. 1919
Number 99 of 250 copies signed by the author, and with autograph transcript of 18 lines of verse from p.122 with a small pen and ink drawing of a hunting scene, signed and dated Dec.10 1920 on front free endpaper, in superb Kelliegram binding of blue morocco, each cover with oval multi-coloured central panel depicting a hunting scene framed by a brown morocco onlay strapwork design and gilt floral spray, above each oval is a rectangular panel with onlaid morocco hunting dogs in pursuit and beneath each oval is a rectangular panel with an onlaid brown morocco Reynard in flight, spine in compartments with raised bands, gilt lettering and decoration and onlaid morocco alternating fox-head and hunting horn tools, g.e., blue morocco doublures with onlaid morocco and elaborately gilt-stamped border with fox-head gilt corner-ornaments, light brown watered silk endpapers, modern cloth slip-case, 8vo, 1919.
About Reynard the literary character (from britannica.com):
Reynard The Fox, hero of several medieval European cycles of versified animal tales that satirize contemporary human society. Though Reynard is sly, amoral, cowardly, and self-seeking, he is still a sympathetic hero, whose cunning is a necessity for survival. He symbolizes the triumph of craft over brute strength, usually personified by Isengrim, the greedy and dull-witted wolf.
About Masefield’s poem:
This is an epic poem about a fox-hunt, full of evocative passages about the various town-folk and countryside. From the author:
“No fox was the original of my Reynard, but as I was much in the woods as a boy I saw foxes fairly often, considering that they are night-moving animals. Their grace, beauty, cleverness, and secrecy always thrilled me. Then that kind of grin which the mask wears made me credit them with an almost human humour. I thought the fox a merry devil, though a bloody one. Then he is one against many, who keeps his end up, and lives, often snugly, in spite of the world. The pirate and the nightrider are nothing to the fox, for romance and danger. This way of life of his makes it difficult to observe him in a free state at close quarters.
“The stars grew bright as the yews grew black,
The fox rose stiffly and stretched his back.
He flaired the air, then he padded out
To the valley below him dark as doubt.
Winter-thin with the young green crops,
For Old Cold Crendon and Hilcote Copse.”
Rogers (Samuel) 1830;1834
First editions, engraved vignette illustrations after Turner and Stothard, both in sumptuous morocco bindings by Fazakerley, elaborately stamped in gilt, the first with red morocco onlays, watered silk doublures and endpapers, t.e.g., 8vo (2)
ODE TO SUPERSTITION
I. 1. (1784)
Hence, to the realms of Night, dire Demon, hence!
Thy chain of adamant can bind
That little world, the human mind,
And sink its noblest powers to impotence.
Wake the lion’s loudest roar,
Clot his shaggy mane with gore,
With flashing fury bid his eye-balls shine;
Meek is his savage, sullen soul, to thine!
Thy touch, thy deadening touch has steel’d the breast,
Whence, thro’ her April-shower, soft Pity smil’d;
Has clos’d the heart each godlike virtue bless’d,
To all the silent pleadings of his child.
At thy command he plants the dagger deep,
At thy command exults, tho’ Nature bids him weep!