1930 The Shepheards Calendar, Edmund Spenser. John Nash illustrator. Pochoir. Cresset Press.


If you like your books to have more influences and connections than a deep state politician, let me introduce you to a book that has much to talk about. Firstly, the literature is a 16th century pastoral (pertaining to farming sheep and cattle) classic that launched the venerable Edmund Spenser's career, of The Fairy-Queen fame. This edition is published by the venerable Cresset Press of London in 1930, printed on Barcham Green hand-made paper, and limited to only 350 copies (this is #37). This is the first appearance of the type 16 pt., linotype granjon old face. "This type face, so-named in compliment to Robert Granjon, the great French type-cutter and printer of the 16th century, was designed by George W. Jones, the printer of this book, at 'the sign of the dolphin,' London". The illustrations by Mr. John Nash have been colored in the pochoir style (hand colored individually by stencil and watercolor paint).

About the Work -

The Shepheardes Calender was Edmund Spenser's first major poetic work, published in 1579. In emulation of Virgil's first work, the Eclogues, Spenser wrote this series of pastorals to begin his career. However, Spenser's models were rather the Renaissance eclogues of Mantuanus. The title, like the entire work, is written using deliberately archaic spellings, in order to suggest a connection to medieval literature, and to Geoffrey Chaucer in particular. The poem introduces Colin Clout, a folk character originated by John Skelton, and depicts his life as a shepherd through the twelve months of the year. It is also remarkable for the extensive commentary included with the work in its first publication, ascribed to an "E.K." E.K. is an intelligent, very subtle, and often deeply ironic commentator, who is sometimes assumed to be an alias of Spenser himself. The term sarcasm is first recorded in English in Spenser's poem.

About the Illustrator -

John Northcote Nash CBE, RA (1893 –1977) was a British painter of landscapes and still-lives, and a wood engraver and illustrator, particularly of botanic works. He was the younger brother of the artist Paul Nash.

About The Cresset Press -

The Cresset Press was a publishing company in London, England, active as an independent press from 1927 for 40 years, and initially specializing in "expensively illustrated limited editions of classical works, like Milton's Paradise Lost".

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 33 x 20 x 2.5 cm. Hardcover, parchment like spine with silk covering the boards. Title, author and press in gilt on spine. Hand-made paper. Pochoir illustrations of John Nash, title page and twelve months. Limited edition.

Condition -

See pictures. Binding with shelf wear and edge wear, with a little rubbing and worn edges. The silk is looking a little threadbare because it's almost 90 years old. The bottom of the spine has been lightly bumped. Ex libris plate removed from pastedown but remains of glue dots still visible. Some pencil bookseller notes on the pastedown and flyleaf (blank page when you 1st open the book). Also, a 1 cm hole near the bottom of the flyleaf, likely from a bookseller's ticket being removed. Limitation page has a crease. Page xxiii has a 3 cm fore-edge tear, no text affected. Spot (.5 cm) at fore-edge margin of frontis and page 1. Pages 27 to 30 were folded poorly at the bottom gutter causing dog-ear and 1 cm tear. Erasure mark on the rear pastedown (inside of rear board). Despite notes, the book shows well and is handsome, the issues being small. Also, of all the examples I've seen for sale, this has the best silk on the boards.

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