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RACKHAM, Arthur (illus.); WALTON, Izaak.

The Compleat Angler, or The Contemplative Man's Recreation.

Being a Discourse of Rivers, Fishponds, Fish and Fishing Not Unworthy the Perusal of most Anglers.

London: George G. Harrap & Co Ltd, 1931 Stock Code: 142427
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Specially bound presentation copy with an original watercolour

Signed limited edition, special issue, number 2 of 14 copies for presentation issued with an original signed pen-and-ink and watercolour sketch by Rackham, here depicting Izaak Walton being served a fish on a plate, and in a specially commissioned luxury binding decorated in gilt with tools designed by the artist. The signed edition was limited to 775 copies.

Harrap launched The Compleat Angler at a presentation party on 24 September 1931 during which each one of the 14 guests was presented with a leather-bound edition of the book, each with a signed ink sketch by Rackham on the half-title. Rackham had been adding special watercolour to volumes since the early 1920s as commissions to supplement his income, but it was George Harrap who hit on the idea of a "Rackham special", the most exclusive format of Rackham's books. From The Vicar of Wakefield on, Harrap held back the first dozen or so copies to be specially bound, as here, and asked Rackham to add a unique original watercolour sketch to the limited page. The first few copies were usually reserved for the publisher and his family; only a handful were available to the public.

Describing his artistic method for these "specials", Rackham pointed out that "my little sketches must inevitably be of a light-hearted or joking nature... They have to be spontaneous and free handed. The nature of the paper is such that there can be no preparatory drawing and no alterations".

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Small quarto. Publisher's special binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe in red crushed morocco, titles in gilt direct to spine, raised bands, single gilt fillet frames to compartments and gilt fish motif (closely resembling that used on copies in the vellum binding), concentric gilt panels on boards with fish motif to corners, three frames in gilt to turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, others untrimmed, red silk page marker.


Colour frontispiece and 11 coloured plates with captioned tissue guards, black and white illustrations in the text, by Rackham, title printed in green and black.


Bequeathal inscription dated 1956 loosely inserted. The binding sharp, a few spots of faint foxing to contents, very slight foxing to fore- and bottom edges, else internally crisp and unmarked. A fine copy.


Latimore & Haskell pp. 66-67; Riall p. 175.


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