Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Iron Tonic

The Iron Tonic: Or, A Winter Afternoon In Lonely Valley has been one of Edward Gorey's more difficult (and expensive) books to acquire as a first edition due to the small run of the original printing. Printed by The Albondocani Press in 1969, The Iron Tonic was created in a limited edition run of 226 signed, numbered (200)/lettered (A - Z) copies. This is Gorey's first book to appear as a signed/limited edition. Does the small print run indicate that Mr. Gorey did not think this book would sell well? All of EG's Fantod Press books to date were created in editions of 500 copies. I assume the publisher was responsible for distribution, so maybe the publisher limited the number of books to what they felt they could sell.

The illustrations for this story are Edward Gorey's most beautiful pen & ink landscape drawings. Every drawing is an exterior Winter scene which includes a "spyglass" detail, revealing another facet of the story. The Iron Tonic is reminiscent of the hauntingly beautiful drawings Mr. Gorey created for The West Wing. This limited edition book is printed on beautifully soft, fine paper. Due to its size and the suppleness of the paper, this fragile book feel like a memory in your hand.

This story is included in Amphigorey Too, and is currently available as a hardcover reprint. While it is always great to have Gorey's books in print, the drawings were reproduced smaller than the originals, which I feel diminishes the impact of the artwork. In the photo to the left, I am showing the original limited edition printing (front/center - my copy is numbered), the current reprint (yellow boards, left), the uncorrected proof for the new edition (right/center, very poorly printed) and the Diogenes reprint (right/back) in which the drawings are reproduced even smaller than the current reprint. For many years, the Diogenes reprint was the only option for those who wanted to get this title as a separate book.

1 comment:

GEMILITE said...

One of my three favorite Goreys, and the most evocative of the stillness of Winter in literature. Almost more wonderful is the Italian translation as published in Linus magazine [Anno IX, Giugno 1973, No.6(99)], the typography superb with the lyric flow of the Italian text.