Item #24032415 The Chester Play of the Deluge. Mediaeval Religious Play, J. Isaacs, David Jones, Wood Engravings.
The Chester Play of the Deluge
The Chester Play of the Deluge
The Chester Play of the Deluge
The Chester Play of the Deluge
The Chester Play of the Deluge

The Chester Play of the Deluge

Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1927. Jones, David. First and Limited Edition. Hardcover. First edition with David Jones illustrations, one of 275 copies, folio size, 21 pp., with dust jacket. Fine / very good +. Item #24032415

This the first edition of this well-known medieval religious play with the ten glorious wood engravings by David Jones, in the original dust jacket with one of the ten on the front panel. David Jones (1895-1974) was both a writer and an artist. As a writer, he was one of the first-generation British modernist poets and was highly regarded by both T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden. As an artist, he learned wood and copper engraving from Eric Gill, providing illustrations for the Golden Cockerel Press, for which he engraved the Cockerel itself in 1925.

From the web site of PB Press Books: "The 'Chester Mystery Plays' is a cycle of mystery plays originating in the city of Chester, England and dating back to at least the early part of the 15th century ('Chester Mystery Plays')....The plays are based on biblical texts, from creation to the Last Judgement. They were enacted by common guildsmen and craftsmen on mounted stages that were moved around the city streets, with each company or guild performing one play."

Jones' wood engravings accompany the third of the cycle (24 total) which presents the story of Noah and the flood. The engravings are incredibly rich and complex, from the first cut which depicts "[God's] people, in deede and thought...sett fowle in sinne", the second which depicts the beginning of the building of the ark (complete with an angel showing the plans), the animals entering the ark, the dove plucking an olive leaf, the final cut showing Noah making a sacrifice to God surrounded by both his family and the animals, all kneeling.

One must see these engravings in person to truly appreciate them. Although the notes for this book in the bibliography (Chanticleer) state the results were dissatisfying ("...the engravings in this book are the greatest graphic achievement of the Press. They are, however, very poorly printed in the book") we find very little fault.

As a postscript, the wooden blocks survived and Clover Hill Editions published a second edition in 1977, printed directly from those original blocks.

___DESCRIPTION: Full red cloth over boards with gilt lettering on the spine, text in two columns, with tissue guards interleaved throughout; Caslon O.F. type type on English hand-made paper, folio size (12 3/4" by 9 3/4"), pagination: [i-ii] iii-iv [1-2] 3-16 [1, colophon], this no. 33 of 275 copies. In a heavy paper jacket of orange, one of the ten wood engravings on the front panel, black lettering on the front panel and spine.

___CONDITION: Volume fine overall, with clean boards, 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; a hint of rubbing to the head and tail of the spine, else fine. The dust jacket better than very good, the red colour surprisingly strong, light overall dustiness with a few spots of soil and sunning to the spine, a few short, closed tears (with old masking tape on the verso applied by a prior owner) and very small loss of paper at the head and tail (again, with small pieces of masking tape on the verso). Even with the few faults to the jacket, still a stunning copy.

___CITATION: Chanticleer, no. 52.

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Price: $2,500.00