DescriptionWilliam Timlin: The Ship that Sailed to Mars Exquisitely Illustrated Quarto First Edition. (London: George G. Harrap and Company , Ltd., 1923), 96 pages (48 three-color calligraphed text lithographs and 48 color illustrations), white quarter-vellum binding with gray paper boards: gilt lettering and decorative stamping on spine, boards stamped in dark gray lettering, 4to (9" x 12"), dust jacket (in protective Mylar). Illustrated throughout by the author. William M. Timlin was an English artist and architect most known for his watercolor illustrations in the realm of fantasy. After attending art school in Newcastle, Timlin emigrated to South Africa, where he remained for the rest of his days. An architect by profession, Timlin wrote music and stories in his free time, and the story presented here remains his legacy. Like Winnie the Pooh before it, The Ship that Sailed to Mars was conceived as a diversion for the author's child, in this case Timlin's son, in 1921. The project began simply, but quickly grew, resulting in the work presented here: a substantial work composed of 48 intricate three-color calligraphed text lithographs, alternating with 48 dazzling color illustrations, all mounted on gray art paper. Timlin completed The Ship that Sailed to Mars only after two years of intense effort, which can be seen on every page. Each page of calligraphic text is an artfully rendered chapter of the ship's voyage to Mars, followed by an illustration pertaining specifically to that chapter. For example, the chapter on page 20, "The Eden Serpent" tells of the ship's encounter with a giant space serpent who tries to gobble the ship whole. The next page shows Timlin's illustration of the serpent trying to do just that, illustrations that many in the fantasy field find reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and W. Heath Robinson.
After sending the book to Harrap in 1923, the publisher was so delighted by Timlin's work that they agreed to publish it without typesetting. Timlin's original plates were simply reproduced, mounted on gray paper, and bound. The only print run from Harrap yielded 2,000 copies of The Ship that Sailed to Mars, 250 of which were distributed in America. This work remains one of the rarest and most valuable science fiction and children's books of the twentieth century, described by Richard Dalby in The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration as "the most original and beautiful children's book of the 1920s." This copy of Timlin's masterpiece is in fine condition, with only minor wear to the edges, and one corner bumped. The dust jacket shows minimal shelf wear to the edges. Previous owner's bookplate affixed to the front pastedown. The book comes housed in a handsome custom quarter leather slipcase with marbled boards. In our opinion, a better copy of this exceedingly rare and beautiful masterwork cannot be found. From the Ventura Collection.
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