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20 Ants Fine Books


Michael Watson

Member since:


Offering fine press, small press, limited editions, literature, and eclectic categories that strike our fancy.

Online and catalogs issued since 1998. Member of Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) since 2004 and an adherent to its Code of Ethics.

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COUPON CODE (if applicable):
Reciprocal discount to the trade.



90 Indian Trail Rd , Williamsville, NY, 14221, United States

More about this bookseller

Now the principal of 20 Ants Fine Books, I began selling books in 1995 as a sideline in a co-owned antiques and modern design open shop and also on CompuServe and Usenet in those early days of online bookselling. I formed 20 Ants Fine Books in 1998, selling online and by catalog to my customer list. I maintain an intentionally minimal stock of books I consider to be of merit and interest. I've changed the focus of my stock more than once to accommodate changes in the market and now focus on building a stock of fine press books and examples of the book arts. As stated, I believe in presenting books of merit and offer collectors, at all levels, books and ephemera that may speak to them.

I have been a member of IOBA since 2004 and have served the organization in many ways: President in 2007, Editor of the IOBA Standard, member of the Internet Committee, and Webmaster. I'm contributing to the 'new' and see a bright future for what the site offers to the public and how it serves our membership.

Featured Items

2 copies of 12 press proofs from opening of The Windmill Press. Presentation to Frank N. Doubleday

Kingswood, Surrey: William Heinemann Ltd. - The Windmill Press. Very Good- with no dust jacket. 1927. Press Proof; First Printing. Hardcover.


TWO of only 12 copies of the press proof of the first pages composed and printed at The Windmill Press, Kingsmill, Surrey, on December 8th, 1927. The proof pages are the facing pages 2 and 3 from Bread and Honey by Madeline Linford, a journalist and groundbreaking feminist in early 20th Century journalism. Bread and Honey was issued in 1928 as the first book published by the press as a limited edition "for private circulation." Many copies were keepsakes for friends of the press and of Frank Nelson Doubleday and William Heinemann whose collaboration created The Windmill Press. Press and design processes were obviously in flux at this point at the press. The FIRST of these TWO is a presentation copy to F. N. Doubleday and is designated by : "Of the 12 impressions taken as record, this has been especially bound at the Press for presentation to Mr. F. N. DOUBLEDAY", this being printed on the front free endpaper. The SECOND of these TWO copies is designated by a paper label laid down to the front free endpaper: "Of the twelve copies of this proof pulled and bound at the Press this is number 4," the "4" being in ink, by hand. The paper label does not cover any printing on the free endpaper.


Common to both copies: Full leather over beveled boards, with gilt, floral-patterned edges at interior of covers. Gilt frame, title, the windmill device of William Heinemann, and date in gilt. Variegated pale green on cream pastedowns and endpapers. Letterpress printed on cream, laid paper, trimmed on all edges. The first copy has a 3" split, without loss, along the front of the spine at head and a tiny spot to a page with offsetting to the adjacent page. The second copy has a 1/2" closed tear, without loss, to the leather at the spine head, a 5/15" split, without loss, to leather at the spine tail and a pinpoint spot to a page. Common to both copies: Boards are splayed, common to most copies of this book. Overall wear and scuffing to all surfaces and extremities. Spines have wear and some sun-lightening Faint toning at the edges of all pages. Verso of free endpapers has offsetting from some production process. Lack the ephemeral, plain dustwrappers. Quite scarce, with no copies in OCLC. Both copies are VG- and desirable for the unique moment in printing history they represent.


ACCOMPANIED BY A COPY of The Windmill Press. Kingswood, Surrey, The Windmill Press, 1928, 13pp, 8vo. The Windmill Press includes a transcript of the speech delivered by Mr. John Galsworthy at the opening of The Windmill Press on May 23rd, 1928. Galsworthy, a prolific English author, wrote The Forsyth Saga. After the transcript is The Story of the Windmill Press, an essay by F(rancis). Yeats-Brown, reprinted from The Spectator periodical. Yeats-Brown was author of The Lives of a Bengal Lancer and a fascist sympathizer before WWII. The essay recounts the history of the press and its origins in the partnership of Frank Nelson Doubleday, the American publisher, and William Heinemann who together founded The Windmill Press for fine press and trade editions. One of Doubleday's aims, seemingly realized, was a progressive "factory of the future" where press employees worked in a clean, well-lit facility with nearby amenities in a rural setting. Power was provided by oil-fired equipment to eliminate the coal smoke that otherwise blanketed much of England. Care was taken to leave most trees and shrubs standing when constructing the facility and decorative gardens were cultivated for the off-hours enjoyment of workers. This is copy 172 of the edition of 650 and so marked on the limitation page. At the pamphlet states, "Six hundred and fifty copies of this pamphlet have been printed at The Windmill Press for the guests at the Opening Ceremony, May 23rd, 1928." Letterpress printed at The Windmill Press on cream, laid paper with a large sledgehammer and anvil watermark. Edges untrimmed. In stiff, laid paper with French wraps and tie-bound with gray silk ribbon, considerably frayed. The wraps bear the "windmill" device of William Heinemann at the center of the front. Unnumbered, 13 pages. This copy bears the paper label on the front "Frederic Melcher/New York/From his library of Books about Books" Frederic Gershom Melcher was a "book polymath," having been a publisher, editor, bookseller, book distributor, supporter of library science, and promotor of books and reading for children. He proposed the Newberry Medal for the "most distinguished book for children" and proposed the Caldecott Medal for illustrated children's books. He was known for promoting international book trade and copyright laws and fighting censorship. The edges of the wraps are toned, the corners are thumbed, light creasing to wraps and contents, and the pamphlet shows overall light signs of being handled and read at the ceremony in 1928. This scarce and ephemeral pamphlet is in at least VG condition.; 12mo 7" - 7½" tall; [1]2-3[3] pages.


The Allies Fairy Book, signed by Arthur Rackham. Custom folder and slipcase.

London: William Heinemann. Very Good+ with no dust jacket. c.1916. Limited Signed Edition; First Printing. Hardcover.


These 13 collected tales represent the traditions of the Allied nations of World War I and, arguably, amount to uplifting, positive propaganda, possibly for the young and most certainly for their parents. English, "Scotch," Welsh, Irish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, Siberian, and Belgian folk tales and "fairy" tales recount the meek besting the mighty and both people and the supernaturals working toward the common good. Fairies, elves, and their kin know no race or politics and adhere to their primitive law, "Be kind to those who are kind to you," as stated by Edmund Gosse in his wide-ranging Introduction.


Illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), one of leading decorative illustrators of the Edwardian period. Copy 181 of an edition of 500 and signed by Rackham on the limitation page. His 12, fantastic, color illustrations display the nature and 'character' of the characters. All are tipped in to dark, variegated brown, thin, cardstock leaves. The frontispiece is tipped in to the verso, all others to the recto. All are tissue guarded with a caption printed on the tissue. Rackham's monochrome vignette drawings begin and end each chapter with cuts interspersed.


Housed in a more modern, custom, 4-sided folder of cloth on boards, this folder fitting a quarter Morocco slipcase with raised bands and gilt titling to spine, else cloth. All cloth of the folder and slipcase is a close match to the book cloth.


This copy is the English issue with Heinemann in gilt at the spine tail. Rackham had a lucrative relationship with William Heinemann, releasing signed, limited editions followed by trade editions. In fine, smooth, blue buckram with gilt title and publisher to the spine. Gilt title, winged fairy, and winged demon on the front cover. Letterpress printed on laid paper at The Complete Press, West Norwood, London. Top edge trimmed and gilt, fore and tail are uncut. Pastedowns and endpapers, designed by Rackham, are patterned with frolicking fairies and flying swallows. Blue, silk ribbon marker. Though published in a quantity similar to other Rackham-signed limited editions, this title is oddly scarce. Tail fore corners bumped, some light rubbing at the hinges, light overall foxing to the free endpapers with a bit on the pastedowns, light dampstain at the tail of the front free endpaper and the next two leaves, a sliver of unobtrusive foxing along the fore edge of numerous pages. Light scuffing to the cloth of the rear cover. The slipcase has light rubbing to all edges, with wear to the head and tail of the leather. A very nice, presentable, VG+ copy in a custom folder and slipcase.; Color Illustrations; Large 8vo 9" - 10" tall; xxii,121,[1] pages; Signed by Illustrator .



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