Boston: Privately Issued for the Author by Copeland and Day, 1893.. 1893.. Very good. THE FIRST BOOK ISSUED BY COPELAND AND DAY - Octavo, 8-1/2 inches high by 6- 1/4 inches wide. Light green boards backed with a cream vellum paper covered spine, with a device stamped in blind at the top left of the front cover. The covers are rubbed, soiled and slightly stained with wear to the corners. The spine has been repaired and covered over with clear tape. [vi], 41 &  pages printed on hand-made deckle-edged paper, illustrated with a burnt orange wood cut frontispiece, with a black wood cut title page device and pictorial wood cut initials throughout. The hinges are cracked and there is some minor foxing to the pastedowns and endpapers. Despite the binding being worn and grubby, internally this is a very good copy of a handsomely printed book.
This aesthetic manifesto is the first book issued by Copeland and Day. Published in a limited edition of 110 numbered copies, the limitation statement is penned in ink on the blank leaf at the front.
The colophon, printed as the last paragraph, reads as follows: "Here ends the Gospel of Inaction called the Decadence, which is privately issued for the Author by Copeland and Day, of Cornhill, Boston, in an edition limited to one hundred and ten copies on this yellow French handmade paper, and fifteen copies on thick Lalanne paper, which have been printed during October and November, MDCCCXCIII by John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, at the University Press. The Frontispiece and Initial letters are designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and cut upon wood by John Sample, Jr."
The author, Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) was an important American architect of the time, much influenced by the Gothic style in his design of collegiate and religious buildings. In partnership with Bertram Goodhue, his firm won the architectural project for the West Point Military Academy in 1902 and Goodhue opened New York offices to work on the project while Cram stayed in Boston. In 1911, Cram stepped in to Goodhue's perceived domain when he accepted the commission to work on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, a territory Goodhue considered his. As an architect and author, Cram argued for a return to Gothic inspiration though he could also be flexible and often worked in the Art Deco style. As an author he wrote fiction as well as the non- fiction one would have expected. H.P. Lovecraft, commenting on Cram's story "The Dead Valley" (published in the collection "Black Spirits and White"), wrote that Cram "achieves a memorably potent degree of regional horror through subtleties of atmosphere and description".
In "Decadent Culture in the United States", David Weir writes that "with its green carnation boards and its anxious narratives about the adventures of two young American men on the corrupt continent, BLACK SPIRITS AND WHITE appears more 'queer', even, than THE DECADENT. The book helps to show that, no less than in London or in Paris, decadence in Boston is often 'most simply explained' as 'a euphemism for homosexual'. Ralph Adams Cram's THE DECADENT was the first publication of Copeland and Day.... When they formed their publishing venture in 1893, Copeland and Day set out to establish a press that would be the equal of Morris's Kelmscott Press in England. Thus there is some irony in that the first book they produced should be THE DECADENT, which has the look and feel of a Kelmscott edition but is filled with anti-socialist polemic. Despite their concerns over the book's reception, Copeland and Day obviously selected their friend's work as the press's premiere publication because of the affinity the principals felt for British decadence...."
It is worth noting that Cram's architectural partner, Bertram Goodhue, was the illustrator.
A book that is RARE in commerce.