Riccardi Press Books / Booklets

Philip Lee Warner (London, UK; Boston, US) for the Medici Society, Ltd.
Series dates: 1909-1926
Size: 9″ x 6.5″

“The Medici Society, Limited, which has already distinguished itself by publishing some beautiful prints in color after the old masters, has now entered the domain of book publishing, says the British and Colonial Printer and Stationer. Desiring that the type used in their publications should be on the same high level as the colorwork of their pictures, they commissioned Mr. Herbert P. Home to design a new font for them. Mr. Home has had considerable experience in this class of work, and it will be remembered that a specimen of a previous font designed by him, for the Florence Press, appeared in our issue of June 25, 1908. The design of the new font is based chiefly upon the larger of the two faces used in the first edition of Horace, printed at Florence, in 1492, by A. Miscomin. A few specimen lines are reproduced herewith. The actual cutting of the font was carried out by Mr. E. P. Prince, who has performed the same office for most of the new “art” fonts got out in recent years, from those of the Kelmscott Press onward. It may be mentioned that the Riccardi Press books will be printed by the Chiswick Press, and comprise reprints of notable works, issued in limited editions, and divided into two classes, A and B. In the volumes comprised in the first of these there will be no illustrations, and thus the price will be a moderate one, but in the others the pictures in the original will be reproduced in color by the Medici process, or else the works will be illustrated by first-class modern artists. The first publication in Class B will be an edition of “Solomon’s Song,” with ten plates in color after drawings by Mr. W. Russell Flint. The ordinary paper copies will be issued at 2 guineas each. In both classes, the paper used will be hand-made by Batchelor & Son, of Ford Mill, near Ashford, and in the B class books, it will bear the Riccardi water-mark. Mr. P. L. Warner, 38 Albemarle Street, W., London, will publish the Medici Society’s books, prospectuses concerning which can be obtained from him.” (“The Riccardi Press Type,” The Inland Printer, February 10, 1910)

The Riccardi Press Books were a series of semi-distinguished small-press reprints of mostly literary titles. The series name was after the typeface, Riccardi, created for the series. Jackets are common to the series, of a style that seems somewhat characteristic of such small press efforts (see, for example, The New Aldine Library). The jackets are common to the series, and plainly designed like the packaging they are. A 1913 article in The Printing Art (vol. 20, no. 13, 1913) entitled “The Riccardi Press Books” reviews the new series.

Advertisement for the Riccardi Press Books, published in the Nation, November 24, 1910.

Michael Fairless was the pseudonym of Margaret Barber, an English Christian author. The Roadmender was her most well-known book and was very popular in the first two decades of the 1900s. The book author and title are no the jacket spine, as is the series name. The front of the jacket includes the book title and author, a Press seal, and a description of the book:

This edition is limited to 1000 numbered copies printed on Paper
Bound in Michalet Boards, or
Bound in whole Natural-grain Parchment
Fifteen copies on vellum (12 only for sale) have also been printed
Bound in limp Kelmscott vellum

The front jacket flap includes a series of titles in the Handbooks to Ancient Civilizations series.

The rear of the jacket includes a description of the series, and also includes the Latin-language series Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Riccardiana, and a statement that says “Other Riccardi Books are divided into The Octavo Series: The Indian Stories of F.W. Bain: Booklets: and ‘Memorabilia.'”

This is all somewhat confusing: while the Memorabilia series (paperback) and the Latin series are distinct (in WorldCat), the Riccardi Books and Octavo Series, as well as Bain’s 13 volume Indian Stories, are advertised as being part of the Riccardi Books series. This series overlaps with the Riccardi Booklets series, which has an initial series numbered title, then several more titles that are sometimes listed as part of the Booklets series and sometimes part of the Books series.

I have divided the titles below into the Riccardi Press Books and Riccardi Press Booklets. The first title in the Booklets (The King who Knew Not Fear) has a series number (#1), but subsequent titles don’t. Also, some of those Booklets are also listed as being in the Books series. The publisher was not completely consistent in using series names, it seems.

Twenty-one (21) titles were listed in the Riccardi Books series, with one (The Illiad) seemingly not published, so 20 titles in all. Five additional titles were published or advertised as the Riccardi Booklets.

Riccardi Press Books
The Song of Songs which is Solomon’s,
W. Russell Flint, W. Russell & Charles Thomas Jacobi (1909)
The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Translated by George Long (1909)
Le Morte d’Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory (1910)
Everyman, a Morality Play, Frank Sidgwick & John H Amschewitz (1911)
*The Revival of Printing: A Bibliographical Catalogue of Works Issued by the Chief Modern English Presses, Robert Steele (1911)
The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for my Children, Charles Kingsley (1912)
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Edward FitzGerald (1913)
Marius the Epicurean, Walter Pater (two volumes) (1913)
The Indian Stories of F.W. Bain, F.W. Bain (13 volumes) (1913-1914)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll; John Tenniel (1914)
The First Book of Moses Called Genesis, Charles Thomas Jacobi; Frederic Cayley Robinson (1914)
Sonnets From the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning; P H Lee-Warner (1914)
The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke, Rupert Brooke; Edward Howard Marsh; Gwen Raverat (1919)
The Roadmender, Margaret Fairless Barber (1920)
Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy, Thomas Hardy (1921)
Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus, Rendered into English Prose, Andrew Lang; W Russell Flint (two volumes) (1922)
Atalanta in Calydon: A Tragedy, Algernon Charles Swinburne (1923)
The Odyssey of Homer Done into English Prose, Homer; S.H. Butcher; Andrew Lang (1924)
**The Iliad by Homer, translated by Lang, Leaf, and Myers (2 Volumes)
Twelve Poems, Edith Wharton (1926)

*Copublished with Macmillan, London
**Apparently not published (ghost title: announced but not published)

Riccardi Press Booklets
#1: The King Who Knew Not Fear, O.R.; Philip Lee Warner; (1912)
*The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, W.J. Craig; P.H. Lee-Warner (1913)
**A Shropshire Lad, A.E. Housman (1914)
**In Memoriam, Alfred Tennyson Tennyson (1914)
**Knickerbocker Papers, being Rip Van Winkle & The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving (1914)

*in the Booklets series according to The Publisher, p. 717, vol. 99, 1913
**in the Booklets series according to The Athenium, p. 408, 1914

The book is bound in what must be the “Michalet Boards” indicated as one of two available bindings, on the book’s jacket. The book is quarter bound with cloth at the spine and a heavy cardboard for the rest of the front and rear covers. Type is debossed in gold.

The first half-title page, with the series name:

The second half-title page with the book title, and an indicator of the edition. This is copy 329 of 1000 printed.

The title page is minimalistic and in two colors. The date, 1920, is included as Roman numerals.

“First published 1902, Reprinted in the Riccardi Press Books 1920.”

The following page has a printed seal, which also appears on the jacket front: