Little Tom the Sailor. [facsimile by Muir]

Little Tom the Sailor. [facsimile by Muir]
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Printed for & sold by the Widow Spicer of Folkstone for the Benefit of her Orphans, [London: c.1886] Single sheet, 54.3 x 22.5 cm, photo-zincograph printed on French laid paper watermarked [P] le BAS; some browning from the mat but the image clear, a few creases but very good. In a period frame. The very fine William Muir/Emery Walker facsimile, often mistaken in the past for the original though the absence of a plate mark alone suffices to denote the facsimile. Originally etched in relief and white line by Blake on four plates, printed in black ink, uncolored; copies are also known hand colored or printed in brown ink. This is one of Blake’s rarest works; it is also amongst the rarest of Blake facsimiles. It is found on five different papers, one as issued in The Hobby Horse and four others separately - this is one of the separate issues (Keynes issue v) and the only copy I have ever seen. Although it seems that this was produced by Emery Walker for The Hobby Horse and that William Muir the facsimilist of so many Blake illuminated books was also involved (copies as late as 1926 were issued from Quaritch colored by Muir), it is not know whether the four kinds of paper used for printing other than the paper for the Hobby Horse edition were experimental printings prior to landing on the Dickinson paper or later printings for an unknown purpose. Keynes does note that the original print used for this reproduction was much more lightly inked than any other known original printings, and it remains to this day untraced. Bentley, Blake Books, 470D. Keynes, Blake Studies, 2nd ed., p. 110 #v. With regard to the untraced original from which this was taken, Essick wrote: “it was based on an original in the collection of the Gilchrist family, now untraced. Anne Gilchrist died in Nov. 1885 and the original Little Tom probably passed by inheritance to her son, Herbert H. Gilchrist. His name appears at the end of the two-page note on Little Tom published in the Oct. 1886 issue of The Century Guild Hobby Horse with the facsimile bound-in. This note gives a brief description of “the impression from which our present reproduction is taken” (p. 159), but he does not specifically state that he owns that original.” (Item Id: 108154)

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