Images from “In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox”


wilcox st john
Saint John the Divine. The Apocalypse. Woodcuts by Jim Dine. San Francisco: Arion Press, 1982.
Lent by Jeremy M. Norman.
Full black goatskin, with coloured leather onlays and gold and blind tooling.
382 x 282mm. Bound in 1988.
In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, 1998.

Fun fact: The two black goatskins on this binding were tanned using aluminum triformate. At the time, this chemical was used to improve the durability of leather. Unfortunately, when Wilcox purchased it he did not realize (nor did many others) that gold does not adhere to it well. Hence, his gold tooling is restricted to the onlays, while the black is tooled in blind.

Continue reading “Images from “In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox””


Which edition of Ulysses?

A binder I know once told me that he has always wanted to bind James Joyce’s Ulysses, but didn’t know which edition or editions were suitable or affordable. I think I said I’d send him a list of editions. I’m almost positive I didn’t.

To make up for failing to fulfill a promise, I present this handy guide to editions of Ulysses:

  • Paris: Shakespeare and Co, 1922. First edition. 1000 copies in three limitations (all bound in Aegean blue wraps):
    • 100 were printed on Dutch handmade paper, numbered, and signed by Joyce
    • 150 large paper copies numbered 101- 250, printed on Vergé d’Arches, not signed
    • 750 were numbered 251-1000 and printed on a lesser grade of handmade paper, not signed
  • London: Egoist Press, 1922. Purportedly first edition printed in England (except that it was actually printed in Dijon for UK distribution). Pirated edition. 2000 copies.
  • New York: Roth, 1929. Except that it says no such thing on the title page. Pirated edition, unauthorized by Joyce. 2-3000 copies.
  • Hamburg/Paris/Bologna: The Odyssey Press, 1932. First hardcover edition. Printed on India paper.
  • New York: Random House, 1934
  • New York: Limited Editions Club, 1935. Illustrated by Henri Matisse. 1500 copies:
    • 250 signed by both Matisse and Joyce
    • remaining 1250 signed only by Matisse
  • London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1936. First authorized edition printed in England, designed by Eric Gill. 1000 copies in two limitations:
    • 100 copies on mould-made paper and bound in vellum, signed by Joyce
    • 900 copies on japon vellum and bound in green buckram, not signed

So here’s the problem: all of these editions are rare and expensive. I’d go with Random House without dust jacket. That one is probably the easiest to find and least expensive.

Forget what I said about follow-the-flag. Joyce is an exception. He was Irish, but spent most of his time in Paris and Trieste.

Happy hunting!