Monday, August 11, 2014

OT13: Salome

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Oscar Wilde fan and I usually go out of my way to pick up interesting copies of his work. As you can imagine, I own a lot of different versions of his books. Last week, though, was the first time I’ve ever picked up a duplicate book – Oscar Wilde’s Salome:

Black on black with a wax paper dustjacket.
Giddy with excitement when I saw it.

Years and years ago when I was first getting into book collecting I came across a copy of this and fell in love with it. Published in 1945 by the Heritage Press, it was a thin slipcased black book that opened into vivid gold and orange. When I saw a copy at the Monkey’s Paw with the original wax paper wrapping, I picked it up in a heartbeat.

Actually more impressive in person.
Spoiler alert - he loses his head.

Translated by Lord Alfred Douglas, the 51 pages are a quick retelling of the Salome and Herod story in play form. The illustrations are stated to be decorated and hand-illuminated by Valenti Angelo, which pretty much just means someone re-inked the lines and added highlights in gold ink to make the images pop. Gorgeous? Yes. Done by one guy? Probably not.

Most likely had a team of street urchins painting the shiny bits.

What’s more intriguing is that the pages are printed on a broadsheet then folded into the book instead of being cut. This leaves an interesting double paged feel to the pages, adding the decadence of the book.

A great place to leave notes.
The infamous beheading scene.

Also of note is that this particular copy bears an an ex-libris plate of being from the library of William Albin Herold. 

I should really get one of these done up.

Could not find any information on this gentleman outside of an obituary in Toronto, but he must have been an interesting man to his own bookplate done up.

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