Sussex Saleroom: 5th December 2019
RAVILIOUS, Eric (1903-42, illustrator) & James Maude RICHARDS (1907-92). High Street. London: Country Life. Printed in England at The Curwen Press, 1939. Large 8vo (231 x 150mm). Woodcut illustration on title and 24 coloured lithographed plates by Eric Ravilious (some spotting to title and first few leaves of text, a few isolated spots elsewhere). Original coloured pictorial paper boards by Eric Ravilious, ORIGINAL GLASSINE WRAPPER with card turn-ins (corners of boards lightly rubbed and a little bumped, glassine wrapper torn with minor loss, one small rust hole on the rear wrapper, a few rust spots). FIRST EDITION. "Eric Ravilious spent a year sketching these shops in London town or country villages. Jim Richards spent another year finding out what happened behind the counter. Together, with the printer's help, they have made a work of art" (from the turn-in). "In 1938, [Ravilious] collaborated with J. M. Richards, the editor of The Architectural Review, in producing a book called High Street. The illustrations were coloured lithographs of a variety of shop fronts, ranging from a cheese-monger to a clerical outfitter's and throwing in a knife-grinder for good measure. It is a delightful book, beautifully printed ..." (from John Lewis, The 20th Century Book, 1967). See also Andrew Lawson's article on the book in the Autumn 2019 issue of The Book Collector, (vol. 68, no. 3, pp.467-473): "Limited to 2000 copies in its first edition, it assumed its rarity value when Eric Ravilious's lithographic plates for the book were destroyed by a direct hit on the Curwen Press in the blitz. Any later editions from the original plates therefore became impossible ... From the outset, Ravilious's illustrations proved so popular with the public that dealers broke up copies of the book and sold the individual pictures separately. This had the effect of increasing the rarity and value of the intact book ... Ravilious's High Street remains a beacon for our memories of what we have lost."