Waltham, St. Lawrence: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1927 [and] London: Clover Hill Editions, 1977. 2 vols. plus extra material: 4to, iv, 16, (1, colophon) pp. With 10 large wood engravings by David Jones. Original red buckram, pale blue dust-jacket partially faded to almost white as usual, with a second unfaded dust-jacket also present; both with David Jones wood engraving on upper panel. A very fine copy. [and] 4to, ix, 30, (5) pp. With 10 large wood engravings by David Jones. Original cloth-backed marbled boards, orange dust-jacket, as new with three prospectuses (one limited to 50 copies) and the extra suite of prints on Japon limited to 25 sets (see below). A fascinating pair of copies of this very rare and important book, considered to be Jones’s most important work and one of the great books of both presses. The first edition was limited to 275 copies on English handmade paper. With this copy comes a full-page typed letter from Robert Gibbings to the purchaser Henry Bergen dated Dec. 31st 1927, clearly responding to criticism from Bergen about the printing of the blocks. Gibbings lays the blame squarely on Jones: “though David Jones is an excellent artist he is not a first-rate craftsman and his blocks are most terribly difficult to print... He himself is also very disappointed with the result...” Gibbings goes on to mention technical aspects of the printing, paper dampening, etc. which caused problems. This archive reveals more than has ever been know about the problems with printing this book, long recognized as a masterpiece: "In the opinion of some, the engravings in this book are the greatest achievement of the Press ... "
In the Clover Hill reissue of 1977, limited to 250 copies using the original blocks, Cleverdon notes that the earlier (first) printing was on undampened paper because of time constraints, which was not Jones’s fault. Jones was so disappointed that he took back the blocks so he could control any later use of them, which led fifty years later to this Cleverdon edition which is far superior in fineness of impression etc. and of course directly contradicts what Gibbings had said.
To have both editions with all the extra material together at the same time is unparalleled and offers a unique opportunity to study and exhibit Jones’s great masterpiece as published and as the artist wanted it to be seen.
Chanticleer 52. Item #107191