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.