The Red Books of Humphry Repton. (Antony House, Cornwall ; Attingham Park, Shropshire ; Sheringham Hall, Norfolk).
London, The Basilisk Press 1976.
3 vols oblong folio and one vol large folio. Each volume is bound in publisher’s quarter red morocco, marbled boards. The set is preserved in its original large folio custom-built cloth slipcase.
Excellent facsimile reprints of three of the manuscript Red Books prepared by the architect and landscape designer Humphry Repton (1752-1818) for submission to his clients, incorporating reproductions in exact colour facsimile of the design drawings, with attached flaps showing before-and-after views of each landscape, that he provided. An accompanying “explanatory volume” by Edward Malins discusses Repton’s career and sets out the evidence for each of the three commissions recorded in these Red Books. Forty years on, the Basilisk Press edition, issued in an edition of 515 numbered copies (of which 500 were for sale), remains the most ambitious facsimile publication of its nature, and it has attained a status in its own right as a serious contribution to the literature of garden history. It is worth recording that at the time it represented an epic commercial misjudgement by the Basilisk Press’s founder and proprietor, the late Charlene Garry, who was not able to pay the printing bill for the volumes in question, with the result that the unsold stock passed out of Charlene’s hands, but that is now ancient history, and it is really good that the volumes were published at the time that they were, for it is not easy to see who would have the will to carry through a similar publication today.