Clothing without Cloth: A Recent Eric Gill Discovery in the Burns Library

Offprint of Clothing without Cloth, created by Golden Cockerel Press

Offprint of Clothing without Cloth, created by Golden Cockerel Press, N73.G55 1931a Gill.

Lights in the bookcases of the Burns Library’s O’Brien Fine Print Room were recently updated to LED (light-emitting diode) technology.  Due to this renovation project, a number of previously uncataloged books and pamphlets were discovered – some of which turned out to be quite unique.  Amongst this category was a small 16-page essay by the renowned English sculptor and typeface designer, Eric Gill (1882 – 1940).

Part of the Fine Print Collection, this item is found under the Call Number: Burns Fine Print Room N73 .G55 1931b.

Part of the Fine Print Collection, N73 .G55 1931b Gill.

Entitled “Clothing without Cloth: An Essay on the Nude,” this 16-page monograph nicely typifies the beauty and quality of a fine-press item, in this case a work published by The Golden Cockerel Press, of Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire, England.  Printed in 1931 in a run of 500 copies (Burns owns no. 398), the work extols Gill’s notions of the beauty of the human body and the inherent equality of men and women in a state of nudity.  As was common with Golden Cockerel Press efforts, this little work is adorned with four wood-engravings, in this case by Gill himself.

Page 15 from offprint, annotations by author Eric Gill

Page 15 from offprint, annotations by author Eric Gill

But what really made this item stand out amongst all the other Golden Cockerel Press books is the fact that the Burns Library owns the offprint that Golden Cockerel Press created for the author to annotate.  To create the offprint the Press pasted (“tipped-in” is the library term) the 4.5 by 17 cm. printed text on sewn pages that are 12.5 by 25 cm.

Page 15 from the final printed version of "Clothing without Cloth"

Page 15 from the final printed version of “Clothing without Cloth”

This left Gill with plenty of room for editorial comments.  As you can see he carefully edited and annotated his work for clarity and emphasis.  Just compare pages 15 – 16 of the final printed edition (pictured on the right) with the same pages in the offprint (pictured on the left).  Note, for example, at the foot  of pages 15 – 16 of the offprint, Gill’s lining out of the phrase “more than subtle even than woman’s” and compare this with the same pages on the printed item.  Also note at the foot of   page 16 of the offprint Gill’s initials and the date of the corrections.

Page 16 from offprint of Clothing without Cloth, note Eric Gill's initials at the bottom

Page 16 from offprint of Clothing without Cloth, note Eric Gill’s initials at the bottom

The Burns Library has a rich selection of offerings by both Eric Gill and Golden Cockerel Press, all housed in the O’Brien Fine Print Room, which is located on the left side of hallway as you enter the Burns Library from the Ford Tower.  From little-known items like “Clothing without Cloth” to the rare and valuable “The Canterbury Tales with Wood Engravings by Eric Gill,”(Call Number:  Burns Fine Print Room PR1865 1929) the offerings of this press and many others are waiting for your own personal discovery.

Page 16 from the final printed version of Gill's "Clothing without Cloth"

Page 16 from the final printed version of Gill’s “Clothing without Cloth”

  • David Richtmyer, Senior Cataloger, Burns Library
 
 
 
 
Books from the Burns Library’s O’Brien Fine Print Room are available for your study and enjoyment in the Burns Library Reading Room during the Burns Library’s open hours.  Please call  (617-552-4861) or e-mail (burnsref@bc.edu) the Burns Library’s Reference Department if you have any questions or if you aren’t sure that the Burns Library has what you need.  We look forward to seeing you in the Reading Room!

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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