San Francisco: John Henry Nash, 1929. Limited Edition. Vellum. No. 205 of 250 sets, Folio - over 12" to 15" tall, approximately 630 pp. for the four volumes. Fine. Item #CNJL313
This work, spectacular in execution by one of the early 20th century's most distinguished printers, hardly needs an introduction. Melville Best Anderson (1851-1933) against all advice, decided to do a new translation of Dante in "terza rime" which is almost impossible to do in English, spending 28 years on his translation. John Henry Nash (1871-1947) spent six years bringing putting the translation into a published form he felt worthy, and succeeded to a degree that the sets are still highly sought after today. He began by scouring paper mills in England, Germany, Italy and Holland; it was there he found the Van Gelder Zonen mill in Amsterdam, from whom he ordered the special paper, with his watermark. The vellum for the binding presented another challenge, as it is a difficult material to handle successfully; after once again searching through Europe he commissioned the firm of Huble and Denck of Leipzig to make the bindings. The result is almost ethereal in its stark beauty and simplicity; the rather plain, majestic bindings with no ornamentation, the hand-set type in Cloister Lightface (which lightness of feel combined with its basis in Venetian printing of the 15th century was a perfect choice for this work), and the ruled pages setting off the text from the extensive marginal notes (the mitred rule, tricky to set, was a trademark of Mr. Nash), all work in perfect harmony. This set in unparalleled condition, fine both in its binding and the interior, as clean and crisp as though it had just been released. ***DESCRIPTION: The four volumes all bound in full vellum, single narrow gilt ruled border on both boards, spine compartments outlined in gilt with gilt lettering, yapped edges, top edges gilt, green sewn headbands, all text pages with vertical and horizontal mitred rules setting off the text from the marginal notes, limitation statement on verso of title pages, prior owner bookplates on the front pastedowns (see Provenance below); folio size (approximately 13.75" tall), pagination: Vol. I (Florence), (i-ix), blank, half-title, 10-120; Vol. II (Inferno), (i)-viii, half-title (1), 2-165; Vol. III (Purgatorio), (i-iv), half-title (1), 2-166; Vol. IV (Paradiso), (i-iv), half-title (1), 2-165; limited edition of 250 sets with 230 for sale. The prospectus covered in marbled cloth, paper spine label, prior owner order card on the front pastedown, this no. 234, includes a two-page announcement, followed by eight specimen pages; folio size, unpaginated, thirteen pages total. Each of the volumes protected by a custom chemise which is covered in rust buckram and lined with ivory cardstock, enclosing the volumes on all three sides as well as the bottom edge; the chemises fit into separate compartments in a custom wood case (maple?) measuring approximately 18.75" tall, 7.5" wide, and 10" deep; there is a drawer on the bottom of the case which contains four flannel folding bags, likely the original bags which contained the books when they were distributed by Mr. Nash. ***CONDITION: The volumes are all fine, as noted above; the vellum bindings perfect, with no marks or rubbing, text blocks and hinges all strong and sturdy, the pages clean and bright, the only prior owner markings being the bookplates on the front pastedowns. The prospectus is also fine other than some faint sunning to the spine. The chemises and wooden case are fine, the flannel bags near fine, showing faint soiling and minimal wear. ***PROVENANCE: The four-volume set from the collection of noted collector Marcus Crahan, with his bookplate on the front pastedown of each volume; the prospectus from Harry M. Creech. ***CITATIONS: O'Day pp. 65-67, A Century for the Century no. 18. ***POSTAGE: International customers, please note that due to the extreme weight of this set additional postage will apply; please inquire for details. ***Swan's Fine Books is pleased to be a member of the ABAA, ILAB and IOBA and we stand behind every book we sell. Please contact us with any questions, we are here to help.