Here is a beautiful little Roycroft book: Sesame and Lilies by John Ruskin, with original watercolor illumination by one of the best of the Roycrofters–Minnie Gardner. 7 3/4″ x 4 7/8″. #323 of an initialed limited edition of only 450. This copy profusely illustrated with 30 hand-rendered watercolor initials, and 15 small vignettes in the white space such as a crown, an angel, a German drinking horn, etc. The illumined initials are in many colors, including gold, and are more elaborate than usual. Each is a little work of art and they include many flourish, some with flowers or birds. The spiderweb on the title page is great but the nicest is the large N shown, complete with a cabin by the sea! These Roycroft books with original watercolors are getting harder and harder to find, and I kind of hate to let this one go.
It is unclear what involvement Wizard of Oz illustrator W W Denslow had in this book, which was published during his tenure with the Roycrofters. From my Denslow/Roycroft checklist in the Spring 1995 Baum Bugle: “McKenna (1996) attributes Love Ballads of the XVIth Century (unsigned) and Sesame and Lilies (Ruskin) to Denslow, but other sources do not. As with Ruskin and Turner, Denslow’s involvement is likely limited to the ornaments, particularly in the specially illumined copies. For example, the illustration of a man drinking and smoking in Love Ballads and the “T” initial with perched crow on fence in some copies of Sesame and Lilies bear his style and may have been designed by him and illumined by others. The “T” fence initial also was used in 1898’s Rubaiyat. ”
White cloth spine with tan paper-covered boards. Gilt lettering to the front and spine, printed in red and black. 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″.
This scarce book is in very good condition. Exterior has some age toning to the spine and edge wear to the boards. The interior has a bookseller’s pencil price and “illumined by M Gardner” on the blank endpaper. Otherwise the pages are very clean. Binding is tight with no repairs. A nice, collectible early illuminated copy.
Photos and description by Wonderful Books of Oz, copyright protected through the DMCA act of 1998.