The Lyric Garland, 1903 – 1913

Note: The following catalogue list, with minor alterations, is taken from Vilain and Bishop’s Thomas Bird Mosher and the Art of the Book (Philadelphia: F. A Davis, 1992), pp. 11-54, with the kind permission of the publisher. Cross references to the illustrations which appear in the book have been eliminated.

In The Mosher Books of 1903, Mosher introduces three selections—Vols. 23, 24, and 25 in the Miscellaneous Series—that are to become the first volumes under this new rubric. These titles were reprinted from The Bibelot, but Mosher intended to draw upon other sources as well, and to publish the best lyrical works of contemporary poets.

A few of these twenty-six titles were reprinted—Yeats’s The Land of Heart’s Desire received twelve editions and the total number of volumes is fifty-five.

950 copies were printed on Van Gelder paper. For the first edition of the first nineteen titles, 100 numbered copies were printed on Japan vellum. For the last seven titles, a reduced quantity of fifty numbered copies of their first edition were printed on Japan vellum. Mosher also offered from five to ten copies on pure Roman vellum. The standard trim size was 175 mm x 110 mm, and all volumes were printed in Caslon Old-Style, with Chiswick ornaments.

The sober appearance of the gray board binding of the Van Gelder paper copies is relieved by modest white labels on the spine and on the top right comer of the cover, with the title printed in red and framed by two narrow borders of stylized flowers. A similar arrangement for the Japan vellum copies has a lighter feel and is more appealing to the eye.

Mosher seemed to have a special fondness for this series. During a visit to London in 1901, he had met Sarah T. Prideaux, one of the foremost bookbinders of the time, and had asked her to design a special binding for one of his books. Nothing seems to have come of this, but in 1903 he wrote Prideaux asking her to bind the Lyric Garland Series. Prideaux replied that she had “given up binding, except on order only, finding the choice of books too speculative a matter.”1

  1. A LITTLE GARLAND OF CELTIC VERSE. Portland, Maine, Thomas B. Mosher, MDCCCCV.
    41 pp., Lyric 7, Hatch 330. Of ten copies printed on pure Roman vellum, this is number 6.

    Mosher was the first publisher to introduce the American public to the practically unknown writers of the Irish Literary Revival. This volume contains poems by W. B. Yeats, Moira O’Neill, Katherine Hinkson, Nora Chesson, Lionel Johnson, and George Russell (A.E.)

    The Roman vellum copies were either bound in vellum covers or issued in sheets with a special slipcase, as was this copy, to allow the buyer to commission a binding worthy of the pure vellum. (see entries 32 and 54). This copy was bound in 1947 by the binder of the Huntington Library, Mr. Bogadus, in boards decorated with green, red, and yellow flowers strewn on a red trellis, the latter vaguely reminiscent of Celtic interlace.

  1. 1903 letter from Sarah Prideaux to T. B. Mosher. Houghton Library (bMS Am 1096 1403).