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Old 05-20-2009, 09:07 PM   #1
Eric Ladner
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 139
Default Early Edna St. Vincent Millay; what American publishers USED to do

I've been engaged in the painful task of trying to reduce the home library. In an ideal world, I would never part with any book, but, in this real world, all the shelves are double stacked, the piles on the floor are starting to topple, and the significant other is asking where SHE can have a little shelf space. And, honestly, I have to admit that some books that I've hauled with us through multiple moves for over thirty years are unlikely ever to be opened again.

I'm going to donate them to the Friends of the Library; that makes me feel a little better about it.

Anyway, I just came across two little books I will be keeping, from my mother's poetry collection: "Wine From These Grapes" and "Conversation at Midnight," by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Both are identified as "First Edition." I know that there first editions and first editions, but they are certainly very early, published in 1935 and 1937. One has an inscription from my mother's brother, from Christmas 1937. (I just typed 1397; Mama would rise up and clobber me for that!)

These are amazingly elegant books, but do not appear to have been aimed at the "fine books" collector. They were published by "Harper and Brothers," which I assume to have been the progenitor of all the later Harper variations. If they are examples of what main-stream American publishing used to be capable of, then we have fallen a long, long way.

I've uploaded a few scans here:

http://gallery.me.com/eric.ladner#100250

I'm pretty sure they are printed letterpress, since especially on the title pages you can feel the texture of the type. And I wonder who the designer was; it seems to me there must have been a master hand in control.
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