The Mosher ‘Mimes’ the Merrier

I’m always pleased to report a very unusual find via the Internet. In this case it’s a copy of MIMES (Mosher, 1901) by Marcel Schwob and translated by A. Lenalie who was actually Mosher’s first wife, Ellie Dresser. Of course I’ve got MIMES in every conceivable form including the Van Gelder paper, the Japan vellum paper, the real vellum copy (Mosher’s copy, in fact), and a copy in fine binding looking very much like a Roycroft binding. I also have a copy inscribed by Lenalie to the artist / illustrator (“To the esteemed artist–with grateful appreciation from the translator, A. Lenalie 1st Nov. 1901”). By the way, Lenalie doesn’t make it clear as to which “esteemed artist” she was addressing: Earl Stetson Crawford who designed the book’s cover, or Thomas Maitland Cleland who was the designer of the title page. Yet another copy in the Bishop collection is inscribed on the half title: “Compliments of the Translator Aimee Lenalie to Miss M. S. Scott   March Eleventh 1911”–whomever Miss Scott is.

My latest acquisition fits in very nicely with the others in that this copy of MIMES is inscribed in Aimee Lenalie’s hand: “A. Lenalie First copy—-Afterwards done in red, instead of purple. Initial letters in red also—” Indeed, in this copy the wording of MIMES and the date MDCCCCI on the title page are both printed in purple, and the lead initial letters are missing throughout the book, i.e., they we not printed for this “first” copy. Additionally, the title page is a cancel showing the stub on which the blank title page (i.e., the printed title page minus MIMES and MDCCCI) was first assembled into the book, and then the trial title page with purple ink was substituted. The purple would have matched the use of purple for the poppies of the art nouveau cover design by Earl Stetson Crawford. Apparently Mosher and the printer were not satisfied with the effect and opted for red highlights rather than the purple. This kind of thing is fascinating to the enthusiast who’s seeking information on how the book qua physical object came into being.

This article is Copyright © by Philip R. Bishop. Permission to reproduce the above article has been granted by Gordon Pfeiffer, president of the Delaware Bibliophiles and editor of that organization’s newsletter, Endpapers, in which the article appeared in the March 2004 issue. No portion of this article may be reproduced or redistributed without expressed written permission from both parties.