Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jessie Marion King illustrates Eric by F. W. Farrar

Well, my work here is done... My lovely husband came home yesterday with this book. Jessie Marion King (1875-1949) is well known as a book illustrator, jewellery designer and painter of pots, but it can be surprisingly hard to find her work. This is a copy of Eric or Little by Little by F. W. Farrar. It was published by Collins and is undated but my best guess would be this is just pre-WW1, certainly King was doing very similar work for the publisher T. N. Foulis at that time.

This is one of a series of books published by Collins under the title Collins Bumper Presentation Books and they were clearly designed to be cheaply bought by schools to be given as awards. Sadly, this has translated into the quality of the production and, as you can see with this copy, the paper covered boards and the thin hinges have not survived well. This is probably why I cannot find a single reference to this edition online anywhere: I imagine very few have survived. Also notable is that there is a list of titles inside 'uniform with this volume', Alice in Wonderland and Hans Andersen at least were published using the same illustration with different titles. An indication of what kind of publishing job this was is that the only illustrations inside the book are a coloured frontispiece and title page vignette of the most dull and traditional Victorian type. The title page gives the publisher's impression as the Collins Clear Type Press of London and Glasgow. Clearly, the new cover design by King was the only expense Collins was willing to go to in these books as the inside seems an entirely recycled affair from editions they had previously issued.

It is, like most of King's work, a striking, stylised and colourful design. Regular readers I am sure will be able to see a similarity between this style and some of the work of FFEP favourite Albert Wainwright.

(NB. If you have found this post searching Collins Clear Type Press, please DO NOT email me asking about the date, value, or details of your book. I don't wish to appear churlish but I know no more about it than you do.)


MichaelH said...

The Bodleian's Solo catalogue lists a copy of this edition in the library of St Peter's College, but the cataloguer was no wiser about the date - 19-- is all the entry says.

I don't think Jessie M. King can actually have read 'Eric', as her splendid cover illustration bears no relation to the contents of this entertaining book, which is set in a Victorian public school.

Callum said...

There is a mention on the Internet of this series being 1926-1930 but I don't know what the authority of that is.

As I mentioned, I don't think the cover design has anything to do with the contents, both Alice and Hans Andersen also bearing this design in the same series...

Olov said...

National Library of Scotland gives the date as c. 1928, and the two other titles from the series they have in their collections are stated as published 1927 and 1928, so the 1926-1930 span seems reasonable.

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