1987 · Andoversford, Gloucestershire
This book celebrates the co-operation between the Curwen Press and a group of artists who, between the early 1920s and the 1950s, produced the distinctive — and distinguished — series of pattern papers that have become known generally by the name of the Press itself" (p. xi). These productions, used by Curwen and by many other bookbinders for endpapers, book covers, and jackets, were avant-garde examples of modern graphic design. A fortuitously preserved stash of papers enabled the production of this 1987 sample book despite the press's having shut down in 1984, and it includes more patterns, done by more artists, than the previous Curwen specimen book of 1928. Contributing artist Paul Nash's introduction to that 1928 volume is additionally reprinted here.
Each surviving paper pattern (the 32 main samples being each a twelfth of a full sheet, mounted onto heavy stock) is accompanied by a brief biography of its designer and notes on its production; the artists represented, some by multiple papers, are Edward Bawden, Harry Carter, Claud Lovat Fraser, Elizabeth Friedlander, E.O. Hoppé, Margaret James, Thomas Lowinsky, Enid Marx, Paul Nash, Sarah Nechamkin, Eric Ravilious, Michael Rothenstein, Albert Rutherston, Graham Sutherland, Diana Wilbraham, and Althea Willoughby (the specimen of Willoughby's work was specially printed for this volume).
The colophon notes that this is numbered copy XLIV of 335 printed; this is => one of just 85 copies bound by Smith Settle in quarter morocco and Curwen paper, with an accompanying portfolio containing five additional full sheets of pattern paper. The portfolio sheets were designed by Marx, Bawden, Lowinsky, and Friedlander, the latter contributing two patterns. The main volume was set in 12-point Monotype Lutetia (borrowed from the Libanus Press) and printed on Zerkall mould-made and Colorplan papers, with the plates and reprinted pattern papers done at the Senecio Press.
Provenance: From the library of American collector Albert A. Howard, small booklabel ("AHA") at rear. Quarter dark blue morocco and vividly color-printed paper–covered sides with gilt-stamped title on spine, portfolio in matching paper, both housed in publisher's plain slipcase; portfolio spine and corners showing minor wear, main volume bright and fresh. Top edge gilt. One portfolio sample leaf with two short tears from one edge, papers otherwise in beautiful, crisp condition, as are the text pages of the main volume. => A special copy in lovely condition. (Inventory #: 39552)