A Plain Plantain; Country Wines, Dishes, & Herbal Cures, from a 17th Century Household M. S. Receipt Book
Ditchling, Sussex: S. Dominic's Press, 1922. Gill, Eric; Jones, David. Limited Edition. Wraps. One of 400 copies (unnumbered), duodecimo size, 115 pp., in a custom clamshell case. Near fine. Item #21073002
The Saint Dominic's Press, founded by Harry (Hilary) Douglas Clarke Pepler, flourished at Ditchling, Sussex, from 1916 to 1936. The first home of the Press was "a disused stable", with a hundred-year-old Stanhope hand-press which supposedly had belonged to William Morris. Pepler endeavored to do everything possible by hand, believing that such would both produce the best results and also be a "more individual or 'humane'...product". He therefore "preferred the handpress to the machine, handmade to machine-made paper, and handset founder's type to the products of typesetting machines."
Pepler met Edward Johnston and Eric Gill while living in Hammersmith; Pepler and his family would eventually move to Ditchling to join Gill, who was one of the most important artists to provide illustrations for the St. Dominic's Press. Other artists who provided illustrations included David Jones, Desmond Chute, Philip Hagreen, and Mary Dudley Short, among others.
This collection of recipes and herbs was taken from a manuscript inscribed "Madam Susanna Avery, Her Book, May ye 12th Anno Domini, 1688", and it provides a detailed description of medicinal uses and other concoctions made from plants during the seventeenth century. In the introduction, Russell George Alexander advocates for simple living, using what Nature provides, and this book preserves knowledge of herbs and fruits for both healing and edible purposes, and encourages a closeness to the earth.
Included are six wood-engraved vignettes, three of which are by Eric Gill (1882-1940), "Spray of Leaves" variant P108, "Flower" P139, and "Penny Pie" P144. Also with "Basket of Flowers" by English painter and poet David Jones (1895-1974), a contemporary of Gill who provided many illustrations for St. Dominic's Press and The Golden Cockerel Press; in addition, there is an illustration of a hound by Desmond Chute and another of daisies (artist unidentified). This volume with one of the various bindings, identified by the bibliographers as A98d; the bibliography also notes that 400 copies were printed per the Press's 1930 "Booklist".
___DESCRIPTION: In plain brown wrappers, all edges uncut, six black-and-white wood engravings by Eric Gill, David Jones, and others throughout (see details above); duodecimo size (6.75" by 4 1/8"), pagination:  [i-iii] iv-viii, 1-97 . Housed in a custom clamshell case covered with black cloth, red leather label on the front with gilt lettering and a ruled border, the interior lined with white paper.
___CONDITION: Near fine and could likely be deemed fine; the wraps clean without wear, a strong, square text block, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; light dustiness to the text block edges, else fine. The clamshell box also fine, strong and sturdy, the leather label clean, both the lable and case without wear.
___CITATIONS: Taylor A98d; Skelton (plates); Gill no. 381; note that the quotes and much of the introductory information from "Three Private Presses" by Brocard Sewell.
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