My travels in the USA were centred around the launch of the Letterpress Shakespeare in New York – reported in the Folio Footnotes blog. In addition, I visited a number of institutions in Boston, Baltimore and New York, and saw some delightful books which might become Folio limited editions. At Ars Libri, a superb art bookshop in Boston I saw several masterpieces of calligraphy, including this one by Jan van den Velde. It is absolutely stunning – and if anyone knows of similar work in English I’d be delighted to hear about it.Then in New York, at the Arader Galleries – a treasure trove of fine plate books, atlases and heaven knows what else – I examined books by Eleazer Albin, the first notable compiler of highly illustrated natural history books. This plate of the curlew is from his Natural History of Birds published in 1731. At the end of the beautifully printed text, Albin includes a note on the eating properties of the curlew. My next destination was St Kilda, whose inhabitants appear to have lived almost entirely off a diet of sea-bird meat, oil and eggs. The last indigenous inhabitants left the island in 1930, but there are still colossal numbers of sea birds, as you can see in this photo of Boreray. I was delighted by the number of people who responded enthusiastically to the idea of a Folio Riddley Walker, and now it seems probable that we will go ahead with this for 2016. This title page, dedicated by Riddley himself, was sent to me by Quentin Blake – top drawer boath ways! PS: Someone just sent me this photograph of a damaged manuscript – it’s clear who the culprit is!
Back in the office after a peripatetic few weeks. One of the treats awaiting me was a selection of paste-papers from Victoria Hall for binding our forthcoming Selected Poems by Rupert Brooke. She sent about 40 variations which look wonderful together – it will be hard to choose just one design. The Brooke will be the first in a planned series of centenary editions of poets who died in the First World War, the others being Edward Thomas, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen. They will be printed letterpress and illustrated with auto-lithographs. Also on my desk were some trial book blocks for The Duke’s Children marbled by Jemma Lewis (pictured above, top). Hand-marbled edges are a feature of fine bindings, especially from this period, but producing them is so time-consuming that we cannot have them on the entire run – but we intend to offer them as a (more expensive) option.