CHELONIIDAE Press. - Alan James ROBINSON
A Fowl Alphabet, Twenty-six Wood Engravings by Alan James Robinson
[Easthampton, Massachusetts]: Cheloniidae Press, 1986. 2 volumes (including a chemise with an additional suite of plates), octavo. (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches). Bound volume: title printed in black with the word fowl lettered by hand, half title. Text and colophon/limitation leaf printed in brown and black. 26 wood-engraved plates of birds by Robinson, presented in alphabetical order according to their common name, each with their name and their scientific name added beneath in variously coloured inks in a fine calligraphic hand by Suzanne Moore, the letter of the alphabet added above each plate in manuscript by the same hand. Colophon/limitation leaf signed and numbered 'A/2' in pencil by Robinson; Chemise: an additional suite of the 26 wood-engraved plates, each signed and numbered 'A/2' in pencil; a set of 26 blind-stamped impressions of the line cut initials produced for the regular limited edition; 1 original pen, ink and watercolour drawing on vellum (sheet size: 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches) of the head of the Toucan; extra-illustrated with two copies of the original prospectus, one signed by Robinson.
Bound volume: original limp vellum by Grey Parrot, the flat spine titled in gilt; Chemise: unbound (as issued) within original vellum-backed cloth-covered boards. Both volumes contained within a single vellum-backed cloth-covered box, the spine titled and dated in gilt with the Sea Turtle device at the foot of the spine
One of five copies: the whole edition limited to 231 signed and numbered copies, including 31 "Full Vellum Edition" copies, this a "Full Vellum" example but one of the "five artist's proofs" and numbered "A/2".
The prospectus describes the "Full Vellum Edition" as having the "initial letter and the Latin and common names of the birds hand lettered by Suzanne Moore. The book is bound [in] full bleached vellum by Gray Parrot. An extra suite of the 26 wood-engravings, a set of the alphabet blind-stamped and a drawing are laid in a chemise and housed in a quarter vellum tray-case." [with:] A boxed collection of three 'folders', containing a paste-up, original artwork, and a set of watercolour drawings, all relating to the production of 'A Fowl Alphabet', together with an explanatory 3pp. TLS from Robinson. [Easthampton and elsewhere: circa 1986]. The three 'folders' contained within a single cloth box, with a calligraphic manuscript title label inset on the spine [comprised of:] Alan James ROBINSON (designer, illustrator), and Harold Patrick McGRATH (printer). A full-size paste-up of 'A Fowl Alphabet'. [Easthampton and elsewhere:] "1986". 44pp. (8 ½ x 5 ½ inches): title and 3 preliminary pages with a mixture of pasted-on typeset words and manuscript notes; 8pp. introductory text composed from blocks of pasted-on typeset text with numerous manuscript notes; 1p. manuscript section title; 1p. blank; 27 pp., twenty-six of which have versions of the wood-engraved illustrations pasted-on with the initial letters penciled above (the final image with a proof of the line-cut initial pasted on), with the type-set (or in two cases manuscript) names of the birds below (the twenty-seventh page, between 'Y' and 'Z' is blank); 1p. blank; 1p. colophon/limitation with a block of pasted-on typeset text; 1p. final blank. + 1 second version of the title and the following three pages. Unbound within a cloth chemise. The "first complete paste-up of the book with notes and placements - a unique piece" (Robinson, letter) [and:] Alan James ROBINSON (illustrator), and Suzanne MOORE (calligrapher). A full set of original pencil drawings for "A Fowl Alphabet' with the manuscript calligraphy added. [Easthampton and elsewhere:] "1986". 27 leaves (8 ½ x 5 ½ inches): typeset title with the word 'fowl' added in a calligraphic hand; 26 leaves of thick 'papier d'arches' each with an original pencil drawing of a bird's head by Robinson, presented in alphabetical order according to their common name, each with this name and their scientific name added beneath in light brown coloured inks in a fine calligraphic hand by Suzanne Moore, the letter of the alphabet added above each plate in manuscript by the same hand. + two smaller sheets with trial lettering by Moore. Unbound within a cloth chemise. A "full set of drawings that I did so Suzanne Moore could work out the design and size of the alphabet. I've included a couple of test pages that I thought you would enjoy" (Robinson, letter) [and:] Alan James ROBINSON (artist). A full set of new watercolour drawings illustrating the birds which had previously appeared in "A Fowl Alphabet'. [Easthampton?: no date]. 26 leaves of 'd'arches' watercolour paper (10 x 8 inches): each with an original pen, ink and watercolour drawing of a different bird by Robinson. Unbound within a cloth chemise. A "new set of watercolors for the Fowl Alphabet. These watercolors are easily my best to date" (Robinson, letter). A unique archive of material, chronicling the genesis of the Cheloniidae Press' twelfth book, and one of Alan James Robinson's most successful productions. The book is described in the prospectus as "a collaboration of twenty-six wood-engravings by Alan James Robinson and a newly designed alphabet by Suzanne Moore. The text was culled from 'Animate Creation,' by Rev. J.G. Woods, Vol.II Birds 1885. the text explains that the classification of birds depends largely on the shapes of their beaks or bills. The bird portraits, arranged alphabetically, consider the more diverse and curious forms that beaks have taken through evolution … Two hundred and thirty-one books were printed by Harold P. McGarth at Cheloniidae Press … during the Fall of 1986. The type was set by Mackenzie-Harris with some handset by Arthur Larson … This book was designed by Alan James Robinson, Arthur Larson, and Suzanne Moore."