CHURCHILL, Sir W.L.S.--A Song About "Dear Old Granddad". [?London: ?The Dropmore Press, c.1947.]
Oblong 4° (247 x 301mm). Collation: [A]2 (contents: [A]1r half-title 'He's the grandest granddad ...' printed in gold-brown ink; [A]1v text printed in two columns with initial printed in gold-brown ink; [A]2r mounted pen-and-ink drawing with pencil underdrawing signed 'Jus' within ruled gold-brown border; [A]2v blank). (Light marginal browning, a few small marks.) Original boards covered with fabric net, hand-drawn gold-brown ink border on upper board, bifolium bound in by a white silk cord (some fraying to fabric covering boards). Provenance: Henry Sotheran Ltd, London (bookseller's ticket on upper pastedown).
AN UNUSUAL VOLUME ABOUT CHURCHILL, PROBABLY ONE OF A SMALL NUMBER PRINTED FOR PRIVATE DISTRIBUTION AS GIFTS TO MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY. The cartoon depicts Churchill surrounded by two grandsons and two granddaughters; his four eldest grandchildren were Julian, Edwina and Celia Sandys (b.1936, 1939 and 1943, respectively) and Winston Churchill (b.1940; the next grandchild to be born was Arthur Soames, in February 1948). Taken with text of the poem, which states '([Churchill] has a dozen [grandchildren] -- no, a third [i.e. four])', it seems probable that this volume was produced in c. 1947 (prior to the birth of Arthur), when the youngest grandchild would have been aged four and the eldest eleven.
The typeface employed for the volume is an unusual one; the half-title and the text of the volume are both set in Corvinus Light (the half-title and title of the poem in italic), a typeface designed by the Hungarian typographer Imre Reiner in 1929 and named for the bibliophile King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. Corvinus type was distributed in England from 1934 by Soldans, and quickly caught the attention of Viscount Carlow; it is thought very likely that the typeface inspired Carlow to name his private press the Corvinus Press, and certainly he adopted the raven-and-ring device that Reiner had designed for the type as his printer's device. Carlow owned the Corvinus types in various sizes, and used it to most striking effect in most of the volumes produced by the Press. Following Carlow's death in an air accident in 1944, the Press was closed, and in mid 1945 the types, machinery and paper stocks were bought by Viscount Kemsley, who used them to found the Dropmore Press.
James Gomer Berry, first Viscount Kemsley, was the proprietor of Allied (later Kemsley) Newspapers (whose newspapers had supported Churchill vociferously throughout World War II, and was created Viscount Kemsley in Churchill's resignation honours after the General Election of 1945), and it seems probable that this volume was printed privately by Kemsley at the Dropmore Press for the Churchill family, using the typefaces acquired from the Corvinus Press. For other examples of books printed by the Dropmore Press for private distribution as gifts cf. Nash and Flavell The Corvinus Press D22 (E. Shanks' The Ballad of Mr Shank's Putt, s.a., c.1949 and D26 (The Gallant Defence of the Island of Spam ... by "Nibshire", s.a., ?before 1950).