James Branch Cabell : An Illustrated Bibliography

JURGEN: A Comedy of Justice
McBride Printings in the Kalki Binding

Hall Code
Jur-A3 (K)
Third Printing 1919















Full Title:

Title page recto: Jurgen | [rule broken by the lower portion of the "g"] | [in italic] A Comedy of Justice | [rule] | By | James Branch Cabell | [in italic]"Of JURGEN eke they maken mencioun | That of an old wyf gat his youthe agoon, | And gat himselfe a shirte as bright as fyre | Wherein to jape, yet gat not his desire | In any countrie ne condicioun." | NEW YORK | ROBERT M. McBRIDE & CO. | 1919 (see image above).

Title page verso: Copyright, 1919, by | Robert M. McBride & Co. | [rule] | [in italic] Printed in | The United States of America | Second Edition, November 1919 | Third Edition, December 1919 | [rule] | Published 1919 (see image above).


New York; December, 1919


Crown octavo [19.4 cm. (7 5/8-in.) x 130 cm. (5 1/8-in.)]; pp. (viii) + 368; P. (i) half-title; (ii) [all enclosed in single rule box] Books by Mr. Cabell ; (iii) title-page; (iv) publication data; (v) dedication; (vi) three quotations accredited to Philip Borsdale, E. Noel Codman, and John Frederick Lewistam); (vii-viii) Contents; (1) Fly-title (verso blank); (3-5) text of A Foreward;(6) blank; (7) fly-title (verso blank); followed by text pp. 9-368.


Red-brown cloth; top edge trimmed, otherwise uncut; gilt lettering and decorations on front cover and spine. Spine: JURGEN | [rule] | CABELL | McBRIDE. Front cover: [Kalki device of a stallion rampant in every member] (see image above).

This third printing of Jurgen was the first of Cabell's books to be issued in the Kalki binding.


TO | BURTON RASCOE; followed by dedication in acrostic verse of three quatrains (see image above).

Dust jacket:

Not seen.


blanckThe cloth used on this copy is different from the type McBride normally used on works in the Kalki binding. Hall does not mention this difference, but Matthew Bruccoli does, in his James Branch Cabell - A Bibliography, Part II: Notes on the Cabell Collections at the University of Virginia, Hall F5 (& A31). On page 334:

The copy examined is bound in the same cloth as the Massey copy of the 1st impression.

The "Massey copy" he mentions is one of several copies of the 1st impression Bruccoli examined. He describes it on page 33:

(4) Massey copy. This is a binding variant, as it is bound in FL cloth, whereas the other copies are bound in B cloth.

We describe a copy of the 1st impression in this binding. We have designated this variant as *Jur-A1b.

The "FL" and "B" cloth types refer to the binding cloth designation system developed by Jacob Blanck for his monumental Bibliography of American Literature, Yale University Press, nine volumes, issued variously between 1955 and 1973 (commonly referred to as the BAL). This system is nothing if not non-intuitive, but it does have a logical basis, as it stems from commercial cloth pattern codes used by American producers of binding cloth in the 19th century (and still in limited use today). The Blanck system has never garnered wide recognition or usage, but it is not surprising that Bruccoli used it - he was a contributor and editor of the BAL.

The illustrations of Cloth Grains and Designations (4 pages total, see the B and FL types excerpted above left) are shown as the first illustration, preceding page 1, in each of the nine volumes of the BAL. The system is discussed in detail on pp. xxx - xxxiii of the preface to Volume I.

The Silver Stallion previously designated this binding of the 3rd printing as *Jur-A3a, reserving Hall Jur-A3 for what we expected to be copies in the cloth usually seen on Kalki bindings (i.e., Blanck B). However, we have tentatively changed our position. Based on both Bruccoli's observations and our own, we are proposing that ALL copies of Jur-A3 are in FL cloth, and have revised the designation accordingly. We realize that the evidence to support this contention is thin, and we put it forward subject to revision if evidence to the contrary is found. So it's over to you, readers: has anyone got a copy of Jur-A3 in B cloth?