A Jewel of Czech Bibliophily

Karel SVOLINKSÝ; Karel DUDEŠEK; Josef Svatopluk MACHAR: Ti, kdož mluví z minulosti [Those who speak from the past]. One full-paged original print and 13 black and partly red woodcuts by Karel Svolinský. Kladno: 1928.

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SVOLINKSÝ, Karel; DUDEŠEK, Karel; MACHAR, Josef Svatopluk: Ti, kdož mluví z minulosti [Those who speak from the past]. One full-paged original print and 13 black and partly red woodcuts, where of one double-sided and 6 full-paged, as well as typographical design by Karel Svolinský. (= Edice Zodiac, 6) Kladno: Zodiac, Svatopluk Klír (Státní tiskárne [State Printing House], Prague) 1928. Folio. [4 (blank)], 73, [1 (blank), 1 (colophon), 5 (blank)] p., 1 leaf (original print). Original artist's binding by Karel Dudešek (signed »Dudešek 1932«), with full grained ruby red pig leather and smooth light brown calf leather over wooden boards and hand-sewn capitals, with author's initials on front board, blind stamped on inlaid leather circles and gilded by hand, decorative elements on rear board, blind stamped on inlaid leather circles and coloured in black, 17 vertical ornamental lines on both boards, blind stamped, hand gilded and coloured in black and red, as well as blind stamped and gilt title on spine.

One of only 45 copies printed on voluminous Fabriano hand made paper of this outstanding bibliophile edition of Josef Svatopluk Machar’s long poem about seven personalities of Czech history (incl. Hus and Komenský), numbered no. 62 and bearing the author's and illustrator's genuine signature in the colophon, thus heading a total print run of 109 hand numbered copies, where of 5 printed on Japan hand made paper were marked H. C. (The remainder copies 59 were printed on Dutch hand made paper and have no autograph.) The book was brought to birth by Svatopluk Klír, a painter, graphic artist, typographer and hardcore bibliophile publisher skilled in the early 1920s by František Muzika at Aventinum publishing house. Between 1927 and 1948 Klír ran the »Zodiac« edition producing 25 volumes of extraordinary bibliophile reputation. Profusely and lavishly illustrated by Karel Svolinský, who also contributed an original woodcut on stronger brown paper bound in at the end of the book, set with a typeface in large format using elegant letters also designed by Svolinský, printed with two colours throughout in striking quality and with wide margins, this book can truly be called a jewel of Czech bibliophily in the 20th century.

This is even more true considering Dudešeks skilled and elaborate binding of this copy, one of the few preserved early works of this master of Czech book binding. All three relevant exhibitions catalogues listing a total of 205 bindings executed by Dudešek only know 18 bindings dated before 1938.

The original wrapper, according to the colophon also designed by Svolinský, was obviously not preserved by Dudešek, when binding this copy. Cover at edges and corners very slightly worn, binding with some minor scratches, shelf wear and stains, otherwise very fine, probably unique copy of this bibliophile edition.

Not in Dudešek 1983, 1991 and 1996.

Additional information

Weight 4 kg