The Book of Ballads
[New York]: The Limited Editions Club [printed at the Press of A. Colish], (1967). Kredel, Fritz. Limited Edition. Hardcover. Number 351 of 1500 copies, quarto size, 240 pp., signed by Fritz Kredel, with LEC Monthly letter and announcement. Fine / very good +. Item #19081504
Ballads - or, "the singing of story" - have a long history within many cultures. Part of the interest of a ballad is that it is of "unknown authorship that tells a story in a special way" - take, for example, a favourite that has been printed and illustrated by many, in many different ways - the ballad of "Frankie and Johnny"...."for he was her man, but he done her wrong" (p. 150). The Limited Editions Club has chosen sixty-nine ballads "worthy of being saved" and presents them either by land of origin or (we think more interestingly) by subject, e.g., "Murder Ballads". (n.b., above quotes from the Monthly Letter.)
To our mind, the true joy of this work are the thirty-six woodcut illustrations made by Fritz Kredel (1900-1973), a German-born graphic designer who studied under the renowned Rudolf Koch at the Offenbach School of Art and Design. With the rise of the Nazis in Germany, Kredel fled to New York in 1938, where he settled and taught at Cooper Union College; he became one of the most sought-after woodcut artists in the US of his day, including Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy as clients.
All of the woodcut illustrations here have been coloured through the "pochoir" process, which in simplified terms means through the use of stencils. The effect is much like hand-colouring, as one is seeing "real" paint on the pages which has indeed been done by hand, aided by the use of stencils.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in quarter blue-green buckram with imported paper sides decorated in red and black, spine label a coloured woodcut by Fritz Kredel on light green paper, bevelled boards, top edge stained blue, illustrated title page, a total of thirty-six woodcuts by Kredel throughout all coloured via pochoir at the Walter Fischer Studio; monotype Poliphilus and Blado italics printed on soft-white Curtis wove paper, quarto size (just under 11" by 6.75"), pagination: [i-iv] v-xxiv, [1-2] 3-215 [216, colophon], signed by Fritz Kredel at the colophon, with the original glassine wrapper. Loosely laid in are the LEC Monthly letter and announcement. Housed in a slipcase covered with light green paper matching the spine label, the case with a spine label of dark green which mirrors the same woodcut.
___CONDITION: Fine, with clean boards utterly unmarked, straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; clean, crisp, as new. The glassine wrapper a bit better than very good, with light sunning to the spine and light overall edgewear and creasing. The Monthly Letter and announcement are near fine, clean but with a few minor marks of wear; the slipcase fine, strong and sturdy, without discernable wear or soil; overall a lovely copy.
___CITATION: LEC Bibliography no. 394.
___POSTAGE: International customers, please note that additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.
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