Robert Frost (1874–1963) was one of the most popular and respected American poets of the twentieth century. He wrote frequently of rural life, and his writing reflected a very natural manner of speech to fellow Americans. North of Boston was Frost’s second book, published in 1914. It includes a number of poems that remain among his most famous, such as Mending Wall, The Death of the Hired Man, Home Burial, The Wood-Pile, and After Apple-Picking. Frost wrote the book while in England, in a town called Beaconsfield, just outside London.
This new edition of North of Boston, from Ascensius Press, is, as stated in the prospectus, a fine centennial tribute to this important volume of poems. Readers of Books and Vines are familiar with some other wonderful editions from Ascensius Press, including The Maine Woods and The Life and Morals of Jesus. Those familiar with those editions know that Ascensius does very small limitation numbers, and once gone, these books rarely show up on the secondary market. North of Boston is no exception. It is limited to 26 copies lettered A-Z bound in full calf and 15 copies bound in cloth. That is it. My understanding from proprietor Scott Vile is there are already only a handful left (maybe 10-15 is what it seemed).
As for this edition, the text is based on the third American edition of 1915. Printer/publisher Scott Vile choose a narrow quarto format which works well with the size of the poems. It is typeset in hot metal on a No. 29 Linotype in Linotype Times Roman (10 pt.) with titles printed in brown in 18 pt. Times Roman (Monotype). The paper, with a moderately thick and luxurious feel, is Strathmore Writing Laid Natural White. The title page, a homage to Joseph Blumenthal (whose work has often been highlighted on Books and Vines, just search on his name), is printed in black and brown, using the digital version of Blumenthal’s typeface Spiral; The two crossed swelled rules, also an homage to Blumenthal, are “compass points”, which if you take the left point is Boston, the right point is aimed at Beaconsfield. The half title also has the swelled rules debossed in the same position as the title.
What I like best about the edition is the work of Gray Parrot. Mr. Parrot’s binding work is always excellent, and this is no exception as you will see below. Here he binds North of Boston in full calf, in what I would call dark natural Earth brown. Mr. Parrot also provides mirrored paste paper end leaves which, as you will see below, are stunning. They are a perfect match for the binding, but also for the spirit of Frost’s work itself.
The book contains three photographs, reproduced via digital laser. The use of digital laser is certainly an aberration for most books reviewed here on Books and Vines (which tend to use old school reproduction techniques), but here there is no arguing the quality. The first two images in book, provided by Larry Hayden, are sharply reproduced in almost a mesmerizing manner. On the colophon, there is a photograph of Robert Frost from the collection of James Arsenault.
I have not spent much time with this edition, nor have I read it yet. So, I apologize for this short and not very detailed review! However, I wanted to get this published pretty quickly so Books and Vines readers would have some chance of picking up a copy should they have an interest. You can contact Scott Vile here.
About the Edition
Designed, typeset and printed by Scott J. Vile at the Ascensius Press, from the third American 1915 edition
Typeset in hot metal on a No. 29 Linotype in Linotype Times Roman (10 pt.) with titles printed in brown in 18 pt. Times Roman (Monotype)
The paper is Strathmore Writing Laid Natural White
- The title page, a homage to Joseph Blumenthal, is printed in black and brown, using the digital version of Blumenthal’s typeface Spiral; The two crossed swelled rules, also an homage to Blumenthal, are “compass points”, which if you take the left point is Boston, the right point is aimed at Beaconsfield. (If you look at a map and take the coordinates)
- The half title also has the swelled rules debossed in the same position as the title
- Bound by Gray Parrot in full calf
- Mirrored paste paper end leaves also by Gray Parrot; there is a Gray Parrot binders ticket on the back board (also designed and printed by Ascensius)
- Two images in book provided by Larry Hayden, reproduced via digital laser
- Photograph of Robert Frost from collection of James Arsenault, reproduced via digital laser
Book measures 10.75 x 5.625 in, 96 pages
Solander Box measures 11.5 x 6.25 x 1 with a leather label stamped in gold “North of Boston | Frost”
26 copies lettered A-Z bound in full calf, 15 copies bound in cloth with Ingres end leaves.
Pictures of the Edition
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