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[Vale Press, Charles Ricketts] The Amber Witch, The most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known



Lady Guff-Gordon (1821-1869) [translation]


[Vale Press, Charles Ricketts] The Amber Witch, The most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known. …..

London: Vale Press at the Ballantyne Press, 1903. Designs by Charles Ricketts. Limited Edition. London: Ballantyne Press, [Feb] 1903

Limited to 300 copies [with 10 on Vellum]


Typography: Vale type with the Avon fount used for the author’s marginalia on heavy paper, watermarked with engraving tool and wreaths

Ornaments: Full-page “honeysuckle” border, designed by Ricketts and engraved by Keates.


Holland-backed blue boards are original with hand soiling and wear on the corners and edges. Spine has been replaced with linen cloth matching as issued. Labels are original. 4to; 8.125 by 11.875 inches; pp. i-iv v-viii ix x-clvi clvii-clx. The bindings are tight and square. Text clean, light even toning. Front free endpage with offsetting from bookplates of notable book collectors Robert Honeyman IV and Lawrence M. Lande.

This quasi-historical tale of witchcraft purported to be a true chronicle set down by William Meinhold. Oscar Wilde praised Lady Duff Gordon’s translation, first published in German in 1843.


The Amber Witch was for some time held to be a genuine account of, and contemporary sidelight on, the conditions of the peasantry during the Thirty Years' War, and the attendant obsession with witchcraft and witch-hunting that permeated that era. [Watry]


Background Information:

Richett’s arranged to have the Vale Press publications printed at the Ballantyne Press as private press books by a carefully chosen selection of compositors, readers, pressmen and binders freed from the everyday demands of the press. [Watry]

Charles Ricketts was a British artist, illustrator, author and printer, known for his work as a book designer and typographer and for his costume and scenery designs for plays and operas.


Ricketts first made his mark in book production, first as an illustrator, and then as the founder and driving force of the Vale Press (1896–1904), one of the leading private presses of the day, for which he designed the type and illustrations. A disastrous fire at the printers led to the closure of the press, and Ricketts turned increasingly to painting and sculpture over the following two decades. [Tate]


Lucie, Lady Duff-Gordon was an English author and translator who wrote as Lucie Gordon. She is best known for her Letters from Egypt, 1863–1865 and Last Letters from Egypt most of which are addressed to her husband, Alexander Duff-Gordon, and her mother, Sarah Austin.

Having moved in prominent literary circles in London, she contracted tuberculosis and travelled in 1861 to South Africa for health reasons. She travelled on to Egypt in 1862 where she settled in Luxor, learnt Arabic, and wrote many letters about Egyptian culture, religion, and customs. Her letters are notable for humour, outrage at the ruling Ottomans, and many personal stories from the people around her. [wiki]


Full Title: The Amber Witch, The most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known. Printed from an imperfect manuscript by her father, Abraham Schweidler. Edited by William Meinhold, Doctor of Theology. Translated from the German by Lady Duff Gordon


Ref: Watley, 39; L’Art Ancient, 59, Ricketts, xxx;


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