Very Good. Item #10346
East Aurora: The Roycroft Shop, 1905. First Edition. Letterpress. Small octavo (21x15x1.5cm); [vi] + 123pp. "Rubricated" throughout with each page also showing running title heads in the same color at the shoulder (so to speak).
Maroon suede covers with yapp edges; front panel shows blind-stamped pane framing title and author in gilt. Claret-pink moiré silk overlays to pastedowns, à la doublure. Textblock of Roycroft laid paper with Roycroft watermark clearly visible (see photo). Top edge of textblock gilt; other edges untrimmed. Pink silk bookmark, now detached, is laid in.
The suede cover edges and spine show signs of slight browning from handling, and the spine is rolled in a direction suggesting multiple re-readings—but the pages themselves are impeccable apart from narrow browning at untrimmed edges.
Our author is none other than Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), founder and chief proselytizer for the handicraft Roycroft community (fl. 1900-1910) in East Aurora, just outside of Buffalo. Hubbard was inspired by a trip abroad to be the American emulator of William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. Trips abroad would be his undoing, however: he drowned in the sinking of the Lusitania.
Would that his text were worthy of the binding. It's a literary admixture of Mark Twaineries, knock-off Emersonianism, and insecure Narciss[us]ism, endearing until it becomes unbearable. The volume ends in a hyperbolic paean to the Roycroft community itself, just after comparing its practices to those of Periclean Athens. While decrying specious societal “Respectability,” Fra Elbertus seems to be begging for it.