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A note on the Virtual Facsimile

The text of MUMMERS’ FOOL dates from 1937 (revised 1955), making it an example of Cox’s ‘early’ poetry, at which stage his work depended greatly on sound.  Its theme also exhibits Cox’s interest in the folk customs of Britain, as well as his interest in the possible latent pagan wisdom in such rituals as the Mummers’ Play and the Sword Dance, as explained in the Forward.  The presentation is from a later date, 1965, at which point Cox was fully engaged in exploring the potential of printing innovations dating from 1957.  The direct/offset method allowed him to print from a variety of materials, such as gesso and found objects, such as grasses, flowers, and pine needles.  While the blocks themselves could be very simple, the flexibility of the method allowed Cox to achieve the most interesting colour effects and textures.

     MUMMERS’ FOOL is interesting for other reasons as well.  It is, in the proportion of word and image, among the most balanced of Gogmagog Books (along with 9 POEMS FROM NATURE (1959)).  Also, being from 1965, it comes just before the four ‘season’ volumes, which took the printing methods used in MUMMERS’ FOOL and the experimental print book A WEB OF NATURE (1964) to full maturity and virtuosity (see the individual spreads from AN IMPRESSION OF SUMMER and AN IMPRESSION OF AUTUMN).

     Colin Franklin called the binding ‘perhaps [Cox’s] masterpiece in this kind, with mounted specimens of grass rising above a misty moonscape and across the moon’s disc, a smaller grass  on the back cover, title printed up the cloth spine’. (GOGMAGOG 135)  The subtlety and simplicity of the cover suggests Japanese art.  The paper was first monoprinted, with sweeps of colour spread on the plate, and to this was pasted the paper moon-disc and the grass specimen.  The whole was then covered with a thin, semi-transparent paper which holds the grass in place, and mutes the whole cover in haze.

     As the source book was too large to fit into a scanner, digital pictures have been produced, but reduced from the original 10” h by 6”w dimensions (when closed).  The Jefferson Gothic type that Cox used for the text is difficult to read in this reduced format, so the text has been typed and placed beneath each page for ease of us.  The bibliographical information is included in the Virtual Facsimile, on the copyright page and colophon.    - BH/03

MUMMERS’ FOOL (text and images) is ©2003 by the Trustees of the Morris Cox Estate.  All reproduction rights remain with the Morris Cox Estate.