London: Hacon & Ricketts, The Vale Press, 1897.
First edition. Original patterned green paper covered boards with stylized doves, maroon decorated side and spine. A remarkable association copy, Presented by "the sisters," of course, Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, to C. R. Ashbee, founder of the Essex House Press, with Ashbee's decorative bookplate affixed to front pastedown. Written at top of front free fly, "C. R. A., From the Sisters. May 17th, 1898." This could be in the hand of Michael Field (bearing some resemblance to an ALS during this period), or noting the occasion, written by Ashbee himself. Either way, it represents a wonderful association on a Vale Press classic. Printed in red and black, with lavish decorative initials. The cover design by Ricketts has a fascinating story. The authors, demanding much of the young Ricketts, his revenge was to be secretive about the cover. When they asked him if they would like the cover, he replied, "I shall be immensely wounded and unforgiving if you do not." When the authors received their copy, a diary entry recorded their response: "It is partly green as the summer peascod with creamy rose-trellis... the roses crowned with briar-thorns and under them, fat doves transfixed with arrows as thoroughly as Saint Sebastian." It turns out, Ricketts had gotten revenge by intentionally fattening the doves, while he usually did the opposite with long, flowing motifs and stylisms. However, history has laid claim that it is a gorgeous, complex and significant period design. Scarce thus.
Price: $2,250.00 Item #4451