Books as Art Objects

RackhamRackham 2There was a time when books were considered art objects.  Here is one such from our collection:  The Romance of King Arthur and his Knights (1917).  The Romance was abridged for younger readers from Malory’s Morte D ’Arthur by Alfred Pollard, a scholar of early English literature.  The illustrator, Arthur Rackham, is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration (1890-1918).  Tolkien knew of Rackham’s work and C.S. Lewis found his pictures of Wagner’s Ring “to be … music made visible.”  Rackham’s illustrations are still keenly sought after by collectors.

The library acquired its copy, an American reprint of the original English edition, in the 1970s. The book is in remarkably good condition, save for a few stains.  Since so many copies were produced, it is not a particularly rare item, but it is distinctive.  Our copy has sat unused on the shelves since the 1990s. It is still there, waiting for a reader of romances or an admirer of book craft to enjoy.

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