Once again, progressing through the backlog of donations from our friend Jerry Buff, we’ve come across dozens of little treasures including this 1926 printing of James Branch Cabell’s The Music from Behind the Moon with original wood engravings by Leon Underwood. This is the first publication from The John Day Company, a publisher of illustrated fiction founded in 1926 by Pearl S. Buck’s second husband Richard J. Walsh. The company continued to publish until 1968.
This book was issued in an edition of 3000 copies and was printed by the noted New York printer/publisher William Edwin Rudge on Vidalon Velin paper, from handset Garamond type. The composition was designed by Byron J. Musser. Rudge, a fine designer himself and a printer/publisher for over 30 years until his death in 1931, worked with many of the superstars of early 20th-century American book design, including Bruce Rogers,
Frederic Warde, W. A. Dwiggins, Frederic Goudy, and Elmer Adler. The illustrator Leon Underwood was a British artist of many talents who was a scholar, teacher, and philosopher, and who worked actively in sculpture, painting, drawing, stained glass, furniture, and engraving in both metal and wood.
Our copy of this title was owned at one time by John Sowden, and bears his bookplate. Sowden was a painter and photographer in Los Angeles who moved in Hollywood film circles, and is perhaps best remembered for commissioning the so-called John Sowden House, designed by his friend Lloyd Wright, the eldest son of Wisconsin’s own Frank Lloyd Wright, who’s birthday anniversary was yesterday (June 8)!