Sunday, January 31, 2016

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters (Arion Press, 1996)


Like many book collectors, I've long admired the work of the Arion Press out in San Francisco. I'd know about their Moby-Dick for a while and have a facsimile of the edition - even in a simple paperback reprint one can tell how fine Arion's design is. Although I hadn't handled one in person, I've wanted an original from the press for quite some time. When their 1996 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's travel journal The Silverado Squatters came up at auction for a relatively cheap opening bid, I figured I'd try.

The book also has a bit of a personal connection for me, as at work I helped put together a book for an artist that named his exhibition after the central line of Stevenson's text: "There are no foreign lands, it is the traveler only who is foreign." The book was an achievement of sorts of for me and this felt like a sentimental way to finish out that project.


The book is gorgeous, hand-sewn with boards bound in cork and a cloth spine. It's nice to see a "real" deckled edge, too:


This is in an editon of 250 copies signed and numbered by Michael Kenna, who provides sixteen color photographic prints for the book. 



My copy is signed by Kenna but out of series:


I remember when I bought this feeling like I'd paid too much. Bidding opened at around $150 and ended without a single counter-bid, but it was with a real auction house that charged a premium and a "professional" shipping charge. This isn't something I do often and I remember thinking suddenly I'd gotten in over my head and caught up in the moment -- at a little over $200, I could've put that money towards something that'd been on my want list for ages. I've since warmed up to it and think of it as quite a treasure - the book was originally $425 from Arion back in 1996, so I certainly feel like I got a great deal.

Currently reading:
What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell

Currently listening to:
Underworld, "Second Toughest in the Infants"

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