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Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce, Signed First Edition, Unique Binding by Jamie Kamph



Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce

First Edition – Number 2 of 425 James Joyce Signed Copies

Published by Faber and Faber Ltd., London in 1939

Unique Onlaid Leather Binding by Jamie Kamph

Exceptional Condition

Binding Details:  Jamie Kamph has created a stunning unique binding for Finnegan’s Wake which is bound in full rust goatskin leather with gold tooled images of James Joyce on the front and rear covers as well as musical notes onlaid in various colors and bars of the song “Finnegan’s Wake” blind-tooled along the borders of the binding. The titling appears in gold gilt on the spine which also features blind-tooled musical notations. There are hand-marbled Spanish endpapers and hand-sewn silk headbands. The book is housed in a custom made upholstery fabric solander box lined in silk that has a gold tooled leather title label.  Jamie Kamph’s Stonehouse Bindery gold gilted stamp appears on the bottom edge of the inside back cover.

In her artist statement, Jamie Kamph commenting on her design concept for Finnegan’s Wake wrote, “So much of what this book is about is James Joyce – his unique vision for literature, his sense of his characters’ immediacy, and his appreciation of the music of his language. While designing the binding, I happened to read an article about the specific songs he mentioned in his novels. The song “Finnegan’s Wake” may have even inspired the (murky) plot line of the novel. So it became my border top and bottom, along with the pattern of a zig-zag took that resembles early music notation and is itself (the tool) a 17th century Italian artifact.”

The book measures approximately 10.25” x 6.875” with 628 pages and is signed by James Joyce on the limitation page which states that this is number 2 of 425. Included with the book is a signed artist statement by Jaime Kamph that contains information about the book and binding.

Book Details:  This is the true First Edition, First Printing of James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” published by Faber and Faber Ltd., London and The Viking Press, New York in 1939 with a limitation of 425 copies signed by James Joyce with this being number 2 which is from the library of Ward Cheney, a Manhattan based book and art collector whose pencil signature appears on the first free endpaper. Normally, copy number one would have been reserved for either James Joyce or the publisher, so the second copy is just about as good as it gets.

Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author's death, Finnegan’s Wake was Joyce's final work and has since come to assume a preeminent place in English literature, despite its numerous detractors. Anthony Burgess has lauded Finnegan’s Wake as "a great comic vision, one of the few books of the world that can make us laugh aloud on nearly every page." The prominent literary academic Harold Bloom has called it Joyce's masterpiece, and wrote that "[if] aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon [Finnegan’s Wake] would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante." In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Finnegan’s Wake 77th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

About the Artist:  Jamie Kamph is an author, educator, book conservator, and artist widely recognized as one of most knowledgeable and accomplished bookbinders in the world. She began her career working with Hope G. Weil before opening her own studio, The Stonehouse Bindery, in 1973. Her writings on bookbinding have been widely published in magazines and she is the author of “A Collectors Guide to Bookbinding, published by in 1982 by the Bird and Bull Press and “Tricks of the Trade: Confessions of a Bookbinder”, published by the Oak Knoll Press in 2015. Her design bindings are housed in private collections and institutions worldwide including Princeton University, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pierpont Morgan Library, the New York Public Library, and the Bridwell Library at the University of Texas. Many of her other bindings have been widely exhibited in such places as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Grolier Club, Yale University, and the Aspen Art Institute. In 2003, she was awarded the Helen Ward DeGolyer Award for American Bookbinding. 

Condition Report:  Both the book and the clamshell box are in FINE condition. Internally, the book is in exceptional condition with no flaws.

Photographs of the binding, solander box, the limitation page, and Jamie Kamph’s artist statement appear in the photo section of the listing.