Pyle’s Book of Pirates in Original Box

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Pyle, Howard; Merle Johnson (Comp.). Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates: Fiction, Fact & Fancy concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main: From the writing & Pictures of Howard Pyle: Compiled by Merle Johnson. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1921. First Edition in original box.

Binding: Hardcover (in Box).

247 p.; illus. black & white drawings and full color plates. Size: Between 11"-13" - Quatro (4to).

Collectible copy of the First Edition (Date Code D-V = April 1921) following a limited edition of 50 copies. This posthumously-published illustrated compilation of some of Pyle’s pirate stories is in its original pasteboard box with a small facsimile of the title page pasted in the upper right-hand corner of the lid. No other copies currently available include the box. It features all 36 full page illustrations (including the frontis) bound in, 12 of which are in color. In addition, there are three tipped-in smaller illustrations (p. 3 in B&W; pp. 232 & 239 in color) and three full-page drawings on the front free end paper, half-title page and p. 1 of the text.

As Johnson notes in her foreword, our “present-day conceptions” of pirates “live in present-day conceptions in great degree as drawn by the pen and pencil of Howard Pyle” (p. ix).  In the Introduction to his two-volume bibliography, Paul Preston Davis writes that Pyle received “numerous accolades including being called the ‘father of American illustration’ and ‘America’s foremost illustrator’” (p. ix). At the Howard Pyle School of Art he set up in Wilmington, Delaware, Pyle taught more than one hundred students, the most prominent of which was N. C. Wyeth. Although these artists of what came to be called the Brandywine School were dismissed in their time as merely “illustrators,” Professor Deane Keller of the Yale University School of Art provided an early corrective assessment of their work. Writing of Pyle in 1942, he said, “Pyle used the essential constituents of composition authoritatively. His use of balance, line interrelationship, scall proportion, focal centers, light and dark patterns, repetitions of sharpest lines, rhythms, variations, counters, and the rest was masterly” (quoted by Howard Pyle Brokaw in Davis, p. vi).  The art produced by the Brandywine School is now highly valued and featured in galleries such as the Brandywine Museum in Pennsylvania, the Delaware Art Museum and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine.

The book is in Very Good condition as it has been protected by the box. Bound in black cloth spine and brown paper over boards. The spine has the title and a decoration in bright gilt. The front cover has the title in black with a pasted-on full color illustration of Captain Keitt (who also appears in a plate facing p. 212). The corners are sharp with minimal wear to the corners. There are a couple of white ovals on the cloth of the spine where it appears insects built cocoons at some point.

The box is in Fair condition. The bottom has a 4” separation along one of the folds and has been re-glued in three places that were torn. The top lid is missing all of one edge and has three sections of the sides missing (ranging from 3/4" to 1 ½"). Two of the folds have been reinforced on the inside with archival paper hinge tape to stabilize the edges.

The text block is clean, though tanned from age. The first four leaves do have some light foxing and there is some light foxing in the outside page edges of a few pages. Some page edges are slightly wavy, and a handful of pages have some creasing from the printing process. The top page edges are stained orange and the side page edges have some light speckling. The bottom page edges are clean.

Weight: 3.9 pounds

Note: Additional pictures of the book are available from my website's listing. Click on the link to view those pictures and/or to order the book. Trade discount of 20% available for other IOBA members by using the code provided in my member listing.

Inventory No: 1229.