BRASHER, Rex (1869-1960)
Spring Long Shore
[Kent, CT: printed by the Meriden Gravure Company for Rex Brasher Associates, circa 1929-1932]. Quarto. (12 x 9 3/4 inches). 7 sheets (11 x 7 1/2 inches), with integral illustrations (6 after Brasher, 3 after photographs), mounted recto and verso of 4 sheets of larger blue-toned paper.
Original card wrappers, illustrated titling to the upper cover, glassine wrapper
Provenance: E. Harold Hugo (inscription on inside front cover)
A unique off-print, specially prepared by Brasher for the man who shared his dream.
E. Harold Hugo (1900-1985), or 'Al' as Brasher knew him, started work for Meriden Gravure Company, at 14. By the time he first met Brasher in the late 1920's he was a sales manager for the firm, and during World War II, he became general manager and in 1950 was named a director. He became president in 1969 before retiring in 1975.
It is generally acknowledged that his greatest business achievement was to ensure that, under his leadership, the company won international renown for the quality of its work, but, perhaps his greatest individual business decision was to champion Rex Brasher's cause within his firm, a cause that was quickly taken up by company's president, Parker Allen.
The company went on to provide (at very favourable rates) the uncoloured gravures that Brasher needed to illustrate his masterwork The Birds and Trees of North America , self-published by Brasher between 1929 and 1932, with 867 plates and numerous other illustrations. Brasher's nephew wrote of this deal: "The compact with Merdiden Gravure officers was altogether heartwarming and inspiring. Here were business men - almost total strangers, indifferent to security of any kind, willing and anxious to help a white-haired man realize a dream. ... It was ... a tribute to Rex. It was a tribute to his work. There could be no other inference. Rex could not help feeling a great flooding surge of satisfaction and new confidence" (M.E. Brasher Rex Brasher Painter of Birds p. 269).
The present unique work, warmly inscribed with a small caricature self-portrait by Rex, was evidently intended by him as a small thank you to the salesmanager who became a friend. The text seems to correspond to that found in volume 11 of Rex's larger work (on Warblers, Wagtails, Pipits, etc.): the text which accompanies plates numbered 663-669 includes a narrative with the same title. The illustrated titling to the upper wrapper includes a version of the head-piece vignette on the first page of the text but is probably especially produced for this work. In effect it is a unique off-print, prepared by Brasher for Hugo because he had said how much he admired Rex's lyrical essay on the Long Island shore.