London: Folio Society, 1994. Hardcover. Fine.
A lovely edition of a collection of traditional English and Scottish ballads, illustrated by Jane Lydbury, featuring the tragic nautical ballad "Sir Patrick Spens." This ballad is frequently anthologized as an outstanding example of the form. "Sir Patrick Spens" was first published in 1765, but it is believed to be based on an actual event that occurred around 1290. The King of Scotland dispatched the best sailor in the realm, Sir Patrick, to bring home a young Norwegian princess, despite the well-known, deadly hazards of mid-winter journeys across the North Sea. Versions of the ballad differ: some have the ship go down before reaching Norway, some on the way home. Either way, there are no survivors.Cockram's binding echoes the shapes and colors of Sir Patrick's ship. While they look and feel like suede, the sail-shaped boards are actually covered in layers of hand-colored paper, gently sanded to create gradations of color and the appearance of wear on the sails. The multi-colored, gilded leather pieces on the extended boards resemble the glorious heraldic flags and gilding that would surely adorn a ship on a royal mission. The hand-painted endpapers evoke the huge, crashing waves of the North Sea in mid-winter.Fixed back board binding. Full blue goatskin, shaped boards covered in a mosaic of blue goatskin pieces worked in multi-colored leather onlays, surface gilding, tooling, and hand-colored and sanded paper; leather hinges and headbands; endpapers hand colored by the artist; all edges blue; top and fore-edges with gilding and tooling. Housed in a custom drop-back box. Bound by Mark Cockram in 2008. Text block: 8cm x 11cm. Binding: 14.5cm x 15cm