[San Francisco]: The Book Club of California [Printed by the Grabhorn Press], . Dean, Mallette. Limited Edition. Hardcover. One of 280 copies, folio size, 107 pp., with prospectus. Near fine. Item #19050102
Hernando de Soto (1495-1542), the hero of this story, was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who led the first European expedition into Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas, and was the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi. After an adventurous life, he died in 1542; the actual location of his death is unknown because he had encouraged the local natives to believe that he was a sun god (as a ploy to gain their submission without conflict) and so his men had to conceal his death.
This book was printed by the Grabhorn Press, one of the most highly renowned private presses in America in the twentieth century, run by brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn; it was named one of the Fifty Books of the Year and included in the Exhibition of Western Books (Rounce & Coffin Club). Decorations and initial capitals are by Mallette Dean (1907-1975), a printer and muralist, one of twenty-six artists commissioned to paint murals in San Francisco's Coit Tower; he illustrated books for the Grabhorn Press for fifteen years as well as for other printers, all in addition to printing under his own imprint.
___DESCRIPTION: Quarter white cloth with orange paper boards decorated in red and black by Mallette Dean, yellow-orange paper spine label with decorations and black lettering, fore- and bottom edges uncut, colour relief-cut title page illustrations of the coat-of-arms, forty-seven initials, and special printer's device, all in red, yellow, and black, were designed and cut by Mallette Dean; handset in Franciscan type on handmade French paper, folio size (13.5" by 9.25"), pagination: [1-4] 5-105  [1 colophon], one of 280 copies, unnumbered. With the prospectus, one sheet folded once to make four pages, with an additional unique printer's device of the Grabhorn Press designed by Dean printed in red, one horizontal crease for mailing, and one sheet from Heritage Book Shop, Inc., in Los Angeles, California, with description and price from the bookshop.
___CONDITION: Very good overall, with a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the pages and illustrations are all clean and bright, and the volume is entirely free of prior owner markings; the boards are slightly bowed, have minor wear along edges and corners, corners are gently bumped, the orange paper, being textured, has captured a significant amount of soiling over the years, and there are a few ripples to the front paste-down endpaper due to the glue used for binding. The prospectus is near fine, clean, with a couple shallow creases, and toning to the first page.
___CITATIONS: BCC no. 65, Grabhorn Press Bibliography no. 432; Hawk no. 229.
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