“…AND [I] USE THE GRAVER AND THE PEN, WITH EQUAL APTITUDE AND EASE”: A STEVENSON MEDLEY, 1899
STEVENSON, Robert Louis. A Stevenson Medley. London: Chatto and Windus, 1899. Octavo, original half blue morocco gilt, top edge gilt, housed in custom chemise and Solander case. $350.
Limited edition, one of only 300 copies, of this scarce compilation of “items widely differing in character, some serious and some trifling,” containing two facsimile manuscripts and 11 facsimile booklets and broadsheets, mounted on stubs and bound at the end, originally printed on a toy press (called the “Davos Press”) by Stevenson and his 12-year-old step-son Lloyd Osbourne, many illustrated with wood-cuts made by Stevenson himself, with photogravure frontispiece portrait of the author.
“The abiding spirit of the child in Stevenson was seldom shown in more lively fashion than those days of exile at Davos, where he brought a boy’s eagerness, a man’s intellect, a novelist’s imagination into the varied business of his holiday hours; the printing press, the toy theatre, the tin soldiers all engaged his attention” (Graham Balfour). In Davos Stevenson spent hours with his 12-year-old stepson Samuel Lloyd Osbourne, writing verses and engraving sets of accompanying illustrations for the Davos Press, a hand-operated “toy-press” given to Lloyd in California, where he used it to print and sell invitation cards and programs, before bringing it with him to Davos. Stevenson later wrote in a letter to his mother: “Wood-engraving has suddenly drave between me and the sun. I dote on wood-engraving. I’m a made man for life. I’ve an amusement at last.” This limited edition of Stevenson’s early writings contains faithful facsimiles of the products of the Davos Press, “written and engraved with the humorous zest and eagerness which he always threw into any piece of child’s-play he took up.” Initialed “WBB” (W.B. Blaikie) on the limitation page. First published as an appendix, Volume XXVIII of the Edinburgh edition of Stevenson’s Works (1898). Prideaux 55 (see also pages 274-75). Princeton 70. Beinecke 661. Bookplate of American novelist and playwright George Barr McCutcheon, famous for his Graustark series.
Without one of the “stays” affixed to the rear pastedown. A near-fine copy.