The Finest Private Press Book Ever Published
One of Twenty Five Vellum Copies
The Publisher's Copy
In a Cockerell Binding
[ASHENDENE PRESS]. ECCLESIASTICUS. The Wisdom of Jesus, The Son of Sirach, Commonly Called Ecclesiasticus. [Chelsea: Printed by C.H. St J. Hornby at the Ashendene Press, 1932].
One of twenty-five copies on vellum. Quarto (11 1/4 x 7 1/4 in; 285 x 187 mm), [6, blank], , 182, [6, blank] pp. Printed in black with chapter headings, shoulder and margin notes in red. Initial letters in red, blue, green, and gold relief hand executed by Graily Hewitt and his assistants, Ida D. Henstock and Helen E. Hinkley. Printed in Subiaco typefont.
Bound in full crushed dark green morocco by W.H. Smith & Son* (stamp-signed on lower turn in). Single gilt fillet border enclosing a double gilt fillet central panel with floral corners containing title, publisher and date in gilt. Seven raised bands. Six gilt ruled compartments with gilt lettering to the head and foot. All edges gilt on the rough. Minimal darkening to spine, else a very fine copy with tissue guards present. In the binder's faux straight grain morocco cloth slipcase.
From the library of the Ashendene publisher C.H. St. John Hornby.
"Booksellers continually declare the Ashendene Ecclesiasticus to be the finest book from the private presses…and there is good ground for this opinion…The verse lines of varying length look particularly well in this formal black type on the tall page. There is a sense of relaxation in this last original work from the press, suggested by the many small and larger letters brightly drawn in red, blue and green…Green, blue and red often appear on the same page. Struck by the beauty of his version of Ecclesiasticus written out and illuminated on vellum, A.D. Power [as related by Ashendene publisher C.H. St. John Hornby] 'happened to tell me that he thought of having the version printed, as many of his friends wished to possess it. The temptation to add yet one more book to my list was too strong for me to resist and I there and then offered to print a small edition. I have never regretted having done so, as in my humble opinion it is one of the most satisfactory of the books of the Press'" (Franklin, Colin. The Private Presses, p. 60).
"In this last of the 'regular books' [of the Ashendene Press], qualities which separately had triumphed in many Ashendene volumes were assembled as before the final curtain of an opera" (Franklin, Colin. The Ashendene Press, p. 187).
*The great Douglas "Cockerell's work is sometimes hidden in the trade name of W.H. Smith on bindings of Ashendene books. He was in charge of Smith's bindery for many years, and designed for them. It is accepted that Ashendene books bound by
W.H. Smith are indeed Cockerell bindings. Horby commissioned some for his own library, and the copies on vellum were generally issued in W.H. Smith bindings" (Franklin, The Private Presses, p. 55).
"The Ashendene Press ranks with Kelmscott and Doves at the zenith of superb bookmaking" (Ransom, Private Presses and Their Books, p.95).
Ecclesiasticus is the fifth of the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical books omitted from the Hebrew and Protestant Christian Old Testaments but accepted as part of the canon the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. It is not to be confused with the biblical chapter Ecclesiastes of the Old Testament that is attributed to Solomon, nor is Jesus the son of Sirach to be confounded with Jesus the son of Joseph, i.e. Jesus Christ.
Franklin, p. 197. Item #01269
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