Friday, 19th February 2016

I spent much of the week before last in airports and railway stations. First destination was Stuttgart, where I press-passed the illustrations for H. G. Wells’s The Door in the Wall. Given the huge commitment by the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn in supervising the printing of the original photogravures, I felt especial attention to detail was called for, and had my copy of the original book to hand for reference. The printers, Grammlich, were very helpful and made numerous alterations to the plates to get them as close as possible to the originals. As can be seen in this photo, the backs of the plates are printed with different tints to replicate the different papers chosen by Coburn for each of the plates.

Plates from The Door in the Wall

Then I collected the dummy of Dalì’s 1001 Nights from the binder – it is a mighty tome! This photo of the solander box highlights the exquisite calligraphy by Ged Palmer; the other snap shows Dalì’s signature blocked onto the crushed ‘silk’ of the binding.

Solander box from Dali's 1001 Nights from the Folio SocietyDali's signature

I returned to Stuttgart via a visit to Frieder Mayer at his bindery in Esslingen. Frieder is an expert in all aspects of fine binding. He knows all there is to know about types of leather, and one of his arcane skills is hand polishing the skins to produce different effects. I asked him to produce something for the binding of the Elder Edda which would appear antique without looking ‘fake’ and here is his first trial.

Frieder Mayer's leather

A brief stopover in London coincided with the arrival of the running sheets of Plants of the Americas: here is a small selection of the 264 plates.

Plants of the Americas

Then I was off to Bayeux with the proof of a trial section of the tapestry, to show the Director, M Verney, and his colleagues at the Museum. I must admit to being rather nervous – it seemed the height of presumption even to attempt the reproduction of such an awe-inspiring artefact. There was a long silence as I unrolled the two-metre length and then M Verney said simply ‘Parfait!’. And I said ‘Whew’. So now let’s hope for a fair wind to get it launched for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, 14 October.

Bayeux tapestry reproduced

All this was two weeks ago. As for last week – I went skiing.

Went skiing ...


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  • Ken says:

    Hi Joe – Thanks much for the updates – When would you have more details about the Dali volume Tales from the One Thousand and One Nights and when is it scheduled to be published? Thanks much. I love the new limited edition of Alice in Wonderland. Thanks much for your involvement on this beautiful book. Sincerely, Ken Rosenstein

    • Joe Whitlock Blundell says:

      We will be mailing the brochure of our Dalì 1001 Nights in May. Meanwhile I’ll keep you up-to-date on progress via this blog.

  • David Cooke says:

    Greetings Joe, The forthcoming publications look truly wonderful and will be eagerly awaited. However I would like to raise a query. It happened that while I was looking at the web page the wonderful Alice was launched and I immediately placed an order within minutes of the page going up. I was somewhat surprised to find the limitation number in the high 400s. When I queried this I was told that it is too difficult to allocate books in the order received and that the despatch staff just grab the nearest book to hand and post it off so the first to order could receive No 999.
    This is the reply to my query…[“With regards the numbering, I’m afraid that we don’t necessarily receive all of the books in number order (sometimes the 400s or 500s that are received and unloaded first in our warehouse, sometimes it’s the lower numbers) and as such we aren’t able to promise that numbers be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. It can be a bit of a lottery, and I’m sorry for any disappointment that this causes”]
    I find this an astonishing and somewhat arbitrary approach to your loyal customers – and at odds with every other private publisher in the world!
    It seems strange (beyond credibility) given the extraordinary lengths that you personally take to ensure the highest quality of every special edition to have such a casual approach in the despatch room.
    Warm regards,
    David Cooke

    • F. Markestein says:

      Like David I ordered for the Alice LE the first day possible, November the 10th 2015. According to the website the book should be delivered early January 2016.
      When I was still waiting for the book on January the 16th, I send a mail to the Folio Society. The answer was, that the book would not be available until the end of January. This was not true, some of the Folio Society Devotees already received their copy’s.
      When I mailed this, the answer was that ‘the majority of the first batch were sent to UK members.’
      When on January the 26th, according to my account, the book was still not despatched I canceled the order.
      I was not, like David, in the first place interested in the number, I simply wanted to receive the book as soon as possible. That’s why I ordered for it immediately on November the 10th.
      I am very disappointed in the formal reactions, and above all in the first of them, which gave information that was untrue.

      F. Markestein

    • Joe Whitlock Blundell says:

      I am sorry that you have suffered this disappointment regarding the number in your copy of Alice. We have just completed a transfer of all our stock from one warehouse to another, and have thus been in a period of transition with our despatch processes; Alice was one of the two limited editions whose delivery coincided with this transition. We have since found a way around the problem: as a result the numbers of future editions will be more fairly allocated, and early orderers will receive lower numbers. This will be scant consolation in the circumstances, I know.

      Trusting that the book will nonetheless give you great pleasure.

      • David Cooke says:

        Dear Joe,
        Thank you for the explanation. I wont look at the numbering of my copies but will only enjoy the wonderful production if this work. The binding, the paper, the typefaces, the artwork are all magnificent – and we have come to expect no less from FS; this publication is exceptional in so many more ways. The original print to announce the limitation is a wonderful idea, the little gems pasted in throughout are a delight. Like others, I can hardly wait for Dali and Bayeux.
        Thank you -and your team – once again

  • Gunilla Heick says:

    I loved all your beautiful pictures! – including well earned skiing holiday 🙂

  • Robert Surtees says:

    Hello Joe,
    I, too, inquired on the limitation as I ordered my Alice a number of weeks after the initial release and I was quite surprised to receive one in the 600s. This seemed high to me, although unfounded, but upon reading David Cooke’s note I was more than surprised and somewhat dismayed.
    Spending almost $1000 on such a beautiful tome was not the issue but not receiving the lowest available limitation seems wrong. While FS customer service is amazing this approach to despatch seems very lax to me.

    I am looking forward to seeing Dali’s 1001 Nights and placing an order and the Bayeux tapestry looks amazing!
    Robert Surtees

    • Joe Whitlock Blundell says:

      Please see my reply to Mr Cooke above. I must apologise once more for this glitch in our despatch process.

      Delighted that you’re looking forward to Dalì and the Bayeux Tapestry!

  • David Cooke says:

    Dear Joe,
    The Plants of the Americas is indeed a beautiful production of which you and your team must be justifiably proud. The plates look as if freshly hand coloured
    Sadly it seems that you are let down by your despatch team it seems. Once again I placed an order for a copy within minutes of it being launched on line. The copy arrived yesterday (although once again FedEx and Folio have a recurring delivery problem in Australia and it only arrived after multiple e-mails and telephone calls to FedEx.).
    I would like to know how it is that the limitation number is 491/750 when ordered moments after the launch.
    I am afraid I cannot believe that you sold almost 500 copies in the first few hours… I think you should inform your subscribers that in a practice unique to Folio, the limitation numbers volumes are now being allocated entirely randomly.