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The Arabella and Araminta Stories
Boston: [by John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, for] The Yellow Hair Library, Copeland and Day,, 1895. With an Introduction by Mary E Wilkins Embellished with XV Illustrative designs by Ethel Reed and Explanatory Notes by the Author of the book. Folio (439 × 298 mm). Publisher's floral cloth-covered boards, blue morocco backstrip lettered and dated in gilt, vellum tips. Housed in a flat backed blue folding case. Front and back endpapers signed by Smith, Reed and Wilkins, pastedowns each with an extra original design (front, a flower; back, a butterfly) by Reed. The endpapers duplicated at the front on bright pink and green paper and at the back on yellow paper. Four titles on four sheets, each slightly different, with printer's devices printed in various colours. 15 plates each printed on six different kinds of paper. Duplicate endpapers at the front slightly creased, backstrip a little rubbed, unobtrusive repair to back joint, a very good copy of this exceptionally rare book. First edition, limited edition large paper copy, one of 15 copies only printed on Royal Japanese paper, containing original extra illustrations on the endpapers by Ethel Reed, in a large-paper folio format much larger than the trade issue (which was done in small quarto), with four different states of the title and the plates printed on six different kinds of paper, signed by all the participants on front and back endpapers, bound in specially imported Javanese muslin. One of the rarest of the Parley to Penrod titles, this book in its deluxe format is the masterpiece of the book artist Ethel Reed (1874–1910?), who for a brief period was the star designer of books and posters in the Boston Arts and Crafts movement. Her unfettered artistic exuberance, clearly a reflection of her youthful enthusiasm and high spirits, is extraordinarily appealing. Her style reflects Walter Crane's visual influence (Crane had made a visit to Boston in 1891–92) as well as the decadent images of Aubrey Beardsley. The limited edition is naturally rare and desirable: the last copy at auction was the Grolier Club–Epstein copy (described as "corner worn, hinges reinforced") which fetched $26,400 (Swann, Apr 30, 1992, lot 421). Before that the Bradley Martin copy made $18,400 (Sotheby's New York, Jan 30, 1990, lot 2466). "Ethel Reed was born and raised in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she received her first training in art from Laura Coombs Hills. She later studied at the Cowles School in Boston, where Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was one of her teachers. While a student, she began designing posters and book decorations in a distinctive Art Nouveau style, first for the Boston Herald and later for the small literary presses Copeland & Day and Lamson, Wolfe and Co. For a short period in 1895 and 1896, she was the most celebrated of the Boston book artists. Her brilliant though eccentric work may be an example of the sort of 'specious originality' which the Society of Arts and Crafts sought to discourage. She left for Europe in May 1896 and subsequently contributed a few designs to the British publisher John Lane. She died sometime before 1925, when Richard Le Gallienne, in The Romantic Nineties, recalled 'the noble silent beauty of Ethel Reed, whose early death robbed the world of a great decorative artist'" (Inspiring Reform: Boston's Arts and Crafts Movement, Davis Museum, 1997). "When William Sharp and Maurice Maeterlinck and Aubrey Beardsley see this book they will shed tears of great joy, for their art principles have been applied at last to the manufacture of literature and pictures for children" (Artists of the Book in Boston 1890–1901 p. 27).
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-06-21           Check availability:      IOBABooks    

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