The short-lived Mandrake Press – private press as a means to publish censored materials

An impressive production, folio size, unfortunately it has fallen apart at the spine, but all the art work is in fine shape, full colour printing onto fine paper – very little shock value to them in this day and age, a long and wild essay by Lawrence introduces them.  The story behind these paintings is interesting.

“In June 1929 a squad of embarrassed policemen raided the Warren gallery in London, and seized 13 paintings by DH Lawrence. They were spared from being burned on condition that they were never exhibited in Britain again. The originals were inherited by Lawrence’s widow, Frieda, then by her third husband, and most were then sold for a pittance to a Greek hotelier in New Mexico called Saki Karavas, who once offered to return them to Britain in exchange for the Elgin Marbles going back to Athens. For the last half-century visitors to the La Fonda bar in Taos have paid a dollar to be shocked. From a Guardian article.

The Mandrake Press produced in the same year this limited edition on a subscription basis only.  Mandrake Press was founded 1929, and although assisted by Aliester Crowley, failed in 1930 – Percy Stephensen left Fanfrolico Press to set this up. Percy Reginald Stephensen (20 November 1901 – 28 May 1965) was an Australian writer, publisher and political activist, first for the Communists and later for far-Right groups.

Book Description: hard cover, half-leather over green cloth. lawrence’s phoenix, gilt on cover. gilt lettering to spine. top edge gilt, fore and bottom edges untrimmed., this copy is number 420, from that portion of the edition on arches mouldmade paper.; the binding has cracked in a few spots and would benefit from rebacking. the leather is scuffed at the corners and edges. the sheets are in near fine condition with minimal signs of use. all 26 color plates are in place. unpaginated. colophon has the only b/w illustration. essay in front by lawrence. the copy is solid enough, can be perused, but should attend binder’s rehab anon. lastly, it should be noted that the subject of the artwork is erotic, and was banned from public view in London upon first appearance in a gallery. Size: Folio – over 12″ – 15″ tall.

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