James Branch Cabell : An Illustrated Bibliography

JURGEN: A Comedy of Justice
The Golden Cockerel Press Printing

The Author's View:

James Branch Cabell's opinion of this printing of Jurgen was fiercely negative. In a letter to Edward Wagenknecht dated November 11, 1955, he wrote

...The Golden Cockerel Jurgen caused me to froth at the mouth. After my text had been revised carefully for the Storisende edition, John Lane's, and I needn't say without consulting me, gave the Golden Cockerel people the original 1919 text. I could have murdered everybody concerned. I grant it is a handsome book in appearance, but I have never had the heart to read it.1

His feelings are hardly surprising. Cabell always insisted that the Storisende Edition was only true and correct version of The Biography of Manuel, and refused to allow any reprints of previous revisions of any part of it. For John Lane, with whom he had worked for so many years, to allow this to happen must have seemed like a betrayal of trust.

Sixty plus years on, we can perhaps take a more measured view. Granting the validity of his objections, it must be said that the error he found unforgivable was not committed by the Golden Cockerel Press, who used the text they were authorized to use by Cabell's publisher. To add to that, this was a labor of love for the owner of the press, Christopher Sandford, who counted Jurgen amongst his favorite books.

In addition, we must note that it would be difficult to find another edition of any of Cabell's books that approaches this one in the quality of its printing and binding. The Deluxe Edition and Editorial copies of Special Delivery (SD-A1b & SD-A1c) perhaps come the closest amongst his other works, but even those are surpassed by Sandford's superb printing and the lush Sangorski & Sutcliffe binding of this Jurgen. The wood-cut illustrations by John Buckland-Wright are, admittedly, not to everyone's taste, but they do represent some of the best work from the period's revival of the English woodcut tradition.

1. Wagenknecht, Edward. The Letters of James Branch Cabell (*A35). University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1975. p. 229.


Bibliographic Notes on this Edition:

kalki 28In the course of developing this on-line bibliography, we have found remarkably few places where James Hall, in his James Branch Cabell: A Complete Bibliography, has made an error of fact. Of those few, probably the most significant is in his descriptions of the edition of Jurgen produced by the Golden Cockerel Press. By 1978, at least, Hall himself was aware of the difficulties with his descriptions of this printing. In Kalki Vol. vii, no. 4, Whole no. 28, 1978, Hall published an article titled "Bibliographic Notes", in which he listed several updates and corrections to his bibliography. In this article, he requested further information on the Golden Cockerel printing, noting that some readers had given him further descriptions of their own copies. Unfortunately, he was not aware that the answers to his questions were already available in print.

hoopCock-A-Hoop, the fourth and final volume of the bibliography of the Golden Cockerel Press1, was belatedly issued in June, 1976. This book was written by Christopher Sandford and David Chambers. It covers the final years of the press, from 1949 to 1961. Jurgen, no. 182 in the list of publications, is the first title listed and is extensively discussed. The Silver Stallion's listings of the states of this edition are based on those given in Cock-A-Hoop, augmented by our own observations and deductions.

Hall writes that 500 copies were printed, in two binding states. The standard binding (Hall's Jur-I1) consisted of 400 copies, while the special binding (Hall's Jur-I1a) was made up of 100 copies, each with an additional woodcut illustration. We believe that this was, in fact, close to The Golden Cockerel's original intent, although the prospectus and early advertising indicate that only 80 "specials" were planned at the beginning. It must be said, though, that Hall errs in his description of the two states.

Sandford also says that 500 copies were printed, 400 in the regular printing and 100 with the extra illustration. However, he lists three binding states. These include the regular binding (350 copies), the special binding (100 copies), and a remainder binding of the final 50 copies of the regular printing. We have assigned *Jur-I1b as the code for the second binding state of the regular issue.

At The Silver Stallion, we have personally observed five different binding states. In addition to the two states of the regular issue, we have also seen the special issue in three different bindings. We have assigned *Jur-I1c as the code for the second binding state of the special issue, and *Jur-I1d for the third.

Based on what we have said above, we list these five binding states:

Jur-I1 Golden Cockerel Press Edition

Purple quarter calf, with scarlet canvas boards. Hall states this is the binding for the special edition, but it is in fact the binding for the regular edition. 350 copies.

Jur-I1a Golden Cockerel Press Edition, Special Binding

Scarlet morocco with purple morocco inlays on front and rear. Nominally 100 copies (but see below) with an extra woodcut illustration, signed by the artist.

*Jur-I1b Golden Cockerel Press Edition, Remainder Binding

Green and pink cambric cloth. This is the binding Hall incorrectly describes as the binding for the regular edition. 50 copies.

*Jur-I1c Golden Cockerel Press Edition, Trial Binding (?)

Full scarlet morocco. An unknown number of copies thus, with the extra woodcut illustration, signed by the artist.

*Jur-I1d Golden Cockerel Press Edition, Trial Binding (?)

Purple morocco with scarlet morocco inlays on front and rear (colors reversed from special binding as issued). An unknown number of copies thus, with the extra woodcut illustration, not numbered or signed.

See the entry pages for each state for more detailed description, scans, and more information.

1. The four principal bibliographies issued by the press were Chanticleer (1936), Pertelote (1943), Cockalorum (1950), and Cock-A-Hoop (1976). In addition to these, the Golden Press also released several earlier, much more limited bibliographies. These were in essence checklists, issued in various versions as soft-wrapped or self-wrapped pamphlets.


Prospectus for Jurgen:

prospectus p1Cock-A-Hoop No. p182, a folded broadside printed on both sides to make four pages. There were two printings. The first (April 1949) was 2,600 copies, while the second (May 1949) produced an additional 900. Some 500 of the second printing, though, were intended for the US market, and had prices in dollars rather than Sterling. Other than this, the printings are indistinguishable. It's interesting to note that the prospectus states that the special edition would consist of 80 copies, rather than 100 as were actually issued.

The example shown at left is of the more common British issue. This prospectus is presented here as a PDF file. You'll need to use your browser's back button to return to The Silver Stallion after accessing it.



Dust Jacket Blurb:

cockalorumWhen the third volume of The Golden Cockerel Press bibliography, Cockalorum, was written, Jurgen was still in preparation. While the book was not completed in time to be included in Cockalorum, an advertisement for the upcoming title was placed on the rear panel of the dust jacket of the unlimited edition, and Jurgen was the first title listed in Cock-A-Hoop (see above).





Golden Cockerel Spring List 1950:

wrapspageCock-A-Hoop No. LXXXIV, an eight page catalogue in yellow wraps printed in brown. This was the first Golden Cockerel catalogue to list Jurgen.






Golden Cockerel Fall List 1950:

fall 1950 wrapsfall 1950 pageCock-A-Hoop No. LXXXV, an eight page catalogue in yellow wraps printed in brown. This was the American version of the Spring 1950 catalogue. With a few exceptions, it had the same title list as the British version.