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WILDE, Oscar.

The Sphinx.

Stock Code
London, Elkin Mathews and John Lane, 1894

Laid into this copy a sheet of hand-made paper water marked 'DE LA RUE & CO LONDON', on which in Wilde's hand are seven lines of manuscript comprising couplet 32 (as published) and slightly variant versions of the preceding and succeeding lines.

'the most exquisite of all Wilde's first beautiful that, read in any other format, it seems to lose half of its power' (Wright, Oscar's Books, 2008)

Overseen at Wilde's request by his friend the artist, designer and typographer Charles Ricketts, The Sphinx is preeminent amongst the precursors to Ricketts and Shannon's Vale Press, simultaneously a masterpiece of baroque poetry and of book-production. It perhaps best enshrines the spirit of the aesthetic movement, entirely artificial in conception, a work of beauty almost for beauty's sake. Ricketts considered the designs for the illustrations and for the original vellum binding amongst his best work.

The total print run comprised two hundred and

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First edition, sole impression, one of 200 copies on 'small paper', from an overall limitation of 225; small 4to (220 x 170 mm); printed in black, green & sepia on Arnold's handmade paper, some with the Vale Press watermark, pictorial title-page and 9 full-page illustrations in sepia, decorative initials printed in green, all by Charles Ricketts, original vellum with gilt designs by Ricketts to covers and spine. Housed in a quarter morocco slipcase. Rockwell Kent designed bookplate to front paste down, very light spotting to some pages, boards a little bowed as usual, gilt to spine rather dull. Very good.


Mason 362.

Stock ID:106146

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