San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1911. Hardcover. Duodecimo size, 140 pp., inscribed by George Sterling (most likely) to San Francisco actress Katharine Emmet. Very good. Item #CNWB02
Poet and playwright George Sterling (1869-1926) was much acclaimed on the Pacific coast; a prolific poet, Sterling was part of the group of writers and artists in the San Francisco Bay Area and then in Carmel that included Jack London, Joaquin Miller, Mary Austin, and Robinson Jeffers. In addition to poetry, Sterling wrote several plays, and he was a regular performer in the Bohemian Club's theatrical productions, held in the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, California.
Highly regarded in his lifetime, upon his death his friend Albert Bender, the great patron of the book-collecting world and the arts, wrote a tribute for Sterling ("George Sterling, The Man") and, in part, spoke of him thus: "Every action of his, every poem he wrote, was colored and animated by love of harmony and sublime music, the melody of spring, the open fields, 'the clouds of fire,' the golden lightning, the sea, the cosmic vistas; of art and literature, the sorrows and joys and passions, the hopes and ideals and spirit of our common life - all were transmuted into gold of the soul by his rich imaginings and his articulate translation of those imageries for others" (ibid p. ).
This volume of poems features an intricate publisher's binding designed by Porter Garnett (1871-1951), with his initials P and G in the lower corners of the design on the front board. Garnett was a prominent San Franciscan, a contributer to the Bohemian Club, he establishd the Laboratory Press and was assistant curator of the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley (per "P G, The Green Knight", published by The Book Club of California, 1951).
The front free endpaper carries an inscription from the author, "For / Miss Katharine Emmet / with the admiration and / best wishes of / George Sterling. / San Francisco, / Sept. 4th, 1916." While we cannot be entirely certain, it seems highly probable he was referring to the stage and early screen actress Katharine Emmet (1878-1960), a native of San Francisco who, by the time this book was published, had already appeared in several Broadway plays. Given both of their involvement in the theatrical world, there is no possibility that she and Sterling were unacquainted; particularly given the words Sterling used ("with the admiration of"), we believe he inscribed this to our actress.
___DESCRIPTION: Full purple cloth, gilt illustration on the front board, gilt lettering on the spine (now faded), fore- and bottom edges uncut, several signatures unopened; duodecimo size (7.75" by 5.25"), pagination: [1-6] 7-140, inscribed by George Sterling on the front free endpaper. Manuscript corrections on pp. 22 and 137 in what appears to be the author's hand.
___CONDITION: Very good overall, with clean boards, straight corners, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; small spots of light soiling to the rear board, sunning to the spine and fore-edge, some rubbing to the head and tail of the spine and the front bottom corner, most noticeable to the head of the spine with some loss of cloth, and offsetting to the free endpapers.
___CITATION: BAL no. 18756; according to several auction records, the first issue of this book (500 copies) was stamped in silver; this copy stamped in gold.
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