[Sir Michael Clapham, while proprietor of the Cloanthus Press, Cambridge.] Scrapbook of Sir Michael's wife Elisabeth, containing forty examples of items either printed by him, or with woodcuts by his sister Christiana, or a combination of both.
The 40 items range in size from 25 x 19cm to 5 x 4.5cm. All in good condition, lightly-aged, and all but five laid down on the grey paper leaves of a heavily-worn album, with back cover loose, and with ownership signature of Sir Michael's wife Elisabeth Clapham at head of first page. The couple married in 1935, and one of the 40 items is a card with text in red featuring Elisabeth's maiden name. It conveys 'Good wishes for Christmas & the New Year from Elisabeth Rea | 6 Barton Street, S.W.1'. Christiana Clapham is an assured and accomplished engraver, and her work is produced in a variety of styles, with figures of animals, trees, a sailing ship, country scenes, naked individuals. One print, depicting two men on horseback approaching a church in a modernist style, exists in two states, coloured and uncoloured; another, is printed twice in red (one in cream and the other on grey paper), with a smaller version printed in black. A print of a mediaeval battle on horseback is accompanied by a pen sketch of the same scene. A stylised scene of a church wrapped in stars has 'BASILEON MCMXXXVII' beneath it. Five leaves, including the title, are from a printing (perhaps pre-publication experiment) of 'Prothalamion or A Spousal Verse made by Edmund Spencer' (Cambridge: Printed for Christiana Clapham, 1937). There is a fine print in red of a cockerell, and a print in brown of a stormy countryside scene has the author's pencil signature 'CMC'. Among the items with letterpress, there is a mock-up of a page featuring a light-hearted print showing a floating cherub holding on to the neck of a giraffe, with the text 'Furies of earthly dregs, | Death and destruction | Singe thunderclaps, | That may endure | Threatening'. It carries the pencil signature 'AE'. One card has an illustration of a tree, with the text of the Hymn to the Virgin. Another with a print of a calf and a tree, carries printed 'Greetings and good wishes from Margaret Clapham | Storey's End, | Cambridge'. (There are several others carrying the same address.) There are two Christmas cards for David Balme, one giving his address as Dormansland, Lingfield, Surrey. There is a Christmas card for Harry Scott, with a long biblical text topped by a small image of a horse and the autograph message: 'and thank you a thousand times for the horse - he is splen| H.' There are a couple of Christmas cards for the Theological College, Chichester, one signed by 'Bernard'. Although later characterised an industrialist, Clapham always considered himself a printer first and foremost. The following extract from his entry in the Oxford DNB explains the context of the current collection: 'Clapham's education was conventional: Marlborough College, followed by a classics degree at his father's college, King's College, Cambridge. But he broke the academic mould by developing a fascination with printing. A lifelong literary enthusiast, his appreciation of fine books was encouraged by John Maynard Keynes and a bibliographer friend, also at King's, A. N. L. Munby, and he built his own press with type supplied by the university press while still an undergraduate. Begun as a stunt to produce Valentine cards to send to Newnham students, including his future wife, Elisabeth Russell Rea (1911-1994), his Cloanthus Press went on to produce a limited edition of letters to Leigh Hunt from his son, which had been discovered by Munby. When Clapham graduated in 1933, Walter Lewis, the university printer, offered him a master printer's apprenticeship. Throughout his life Clapham would style himself 'printer'. Two years later Lewis recommended him to Lund Humphries in Bradford, innovative printers then specializing in photolithography. Starting as assistant overseer of the composing room, he soon became works manager. His income allowed him to marry Elisabeth Rea on 18 May 1935; their friends in Yorkshire included Henry Moore. She was the daughter of Walter Russell Rea, then Liberal chief whip, later first Baron Rea.''