Friday, August 7, 2015

Not for the Folk

Jeweled binding to Selected Poems of Robert Burns Robert Burns, the Ploughman Poet, the national hero of Scotland, the bringer of Scottish folk culture to the world, done up in about as fancy a dress as you can imagine. This copy of Selections from Burns was executed in an edition of one with every feature handcrafted by the firm of Sangorski and Sutcliffe. The colophon reads:
This "Selections from Robert Burns" has been written out and illuminated on vellum and illustrated with six original hand painted Miniatures. By Sangorski and Sutcliffe of 1-5 Poland St. London. And will not be duplicated.
Painted miniature from Selected Poems of Robert Burns
From the moment you pull it out of its silk lined box, you know you are in for a treat. The cover, morocco leather with a gold-leaf floral pattern, is studded with gemstones. The flyleaves are silk covered and all of the text is in manuscript on rich vellum. The six miniatures are exquisite depictions of key scenes in the poems. It is so beautiful and precious, you forget to read the text.

Page spread from Selected Poems of Robert Burns
Alas, no humble ploughman would have been able to afford this one. Made to be a treasured item for a select few, we open it to the public--to take a look, ask for Bindings 243.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Blueberries for Hyde

Study of a pail of blueberries by Andrew WyethIt is blueberry season here in the Upper Valley. You can walk up to a bush and fill a bucket before you realize you have even gotten started picking. There is nothing like a bunch of blueberries to make you want to celebrate summer and pull out the maple syrup from last spring.

For some, the inspiration goes beyond pies and pancakes. In this early August letter from 1969 to Hyde Cox, the artist Andrew Wyeth included a watercolor study as a token of thanks:
Betsy just came in with this rusty pail full of blue berries--these she picked in the fields of Broad Cove Farm--I had to make this study for you.  All of this is done to try and tell you in my own language of how deeply I feel about your gift of the Selected Letters of Robert Frost.
Hyde Cox was a friend of Robert Frost's and a friend and patron of Wyeth. His papers contain a folder of Wyeth's sketches and several folders of their correspondence. A few other letters contain sketches, but none quite so spectacular as the pail of blueberries.

Sketch of crow by Andrew Wyethsketch of Andrew Wyeth passed out with liquor bottles
Thank goodness e-mail wasn't around in 1969. A blueberry emoji just wouldn't be the same...

To see the collection, ask for MS-1168. The blueberry study is in box 1, folder 39.