Songs and Poems,—and Writings of,—Edward Jay. The Property of Edward J. Paxson.—Vol. 2— [manuscript caption title].
Decorated and Illustrated fair copy album of original poetry kept by a man
Dramatically decorated and highly illustrated handwritten album of poetry and some prose by Philadelphian Edward J. Paxson. Using the pseudonym “Edward Jay,” Paxson writes of himself throughout in the third person, noting he is the “Author of ‘Wake! Man, Wake!!’,” the poem which opens his calligraphic manuscript.
Paxson’s numerous vignette illustrations and fanciful, “illuminated” initials joined with his neat calligraphy text form a total work of art, ready for publication. For example, the title vignette for the poem “Eventide” shows a barn-like building along a river attended by weeping willows and a setting sun. Each verse and the chorus has a decorated initial and the title is presented in large serifed type enhanced by decorations suggesting the shimmer of sundown. The comic-poem “The Arrizony Bear!” is enhanced by a title vignette drawing of a piney woodland scene and a retreating bear; a decorative initial; and, down below, a rattlesnake winds itself around a decorative rule.
The subject matter of Paxson’s poetry includes sentimental reminiscences (“‘The Good Old Times’ were Deuced Slow”—49 manuscript pages, in two parts), two First World War poems (British Battle-Song! and “Der Kaiser oder ‘Me und Gott!’”), religion, a political poem (“Foolery & Truth!”), epistolary poems, an Irish poem (“An Irish-Lad from Tipperary!!!!”—illustrated with a shillelagh), the American Civil War (“The Picket”), and a curious poem, “The Arrizony Bear!”
The few examples of prose writing in the album include “Marriage of Widows,–Sexual Purity. A Plain Statement in Plain English,” written in a kind of very “un-plain” code; a listing of Masonic precepts (“The Thirty-Three Commendatory Precepts”), an anti-Popery rant which concludes “Is he not ‘Anti-Christ’?!”; and a dessert recipe for “Peach Bird’s-Nest” cake.
Also seen is an original, pen and ink bird’s-eye view of the “Woman’s Museum and Exhibition Building of Philadelphia,” drawn by Paxson in 1913. Further, there is a manuscript sheet music for “Thy God is Near” with lyrics by “Edward Jay” (arrangement by G. LaMonaca) and a decorative headpiece illustration for Paxson’s “Wake! Man, Wake!!”
Paxson’s unpublished manuscript, his “Vol 2,” is prepared like a fair copy. It has fancy, hand lettered poem titles (some augmented with drawings), large decorated initials, and flowing italic hand printing. All of this suggests that the manuscript is a fair copy for a very particular use: camera-ready copy for publication. In fact, three leaves of what appear to be printer’s proofs for Paxson’s poem “The Picket” are laid into the volume right at the place of that handwritten and illustrated three-page poem. One poem, “Thou dear one In Land of Light and Love,” has two tipped in camera-ready cancels.
In all, a wonderfully hand-lettered and illustrated album of original poetry and prose kept by a Pennsylvanian with a clever verbal and visual imagination.
Description: Songs and Poems,—and Writings of,—Edward Jay. The Property of Edward J. Paxson.—Vol. 2— [manuscript caption title].
[Philadelphia, 1906–1918]. Approx. pp., handwritten. Illustrated Manuscript. Small Folio. 13¼ x 11 inches. Quarter red sheep and black cloth boards. Partially foliated. Decorative, italic hand lettering; hand drawn, numerous decorated initials; illustrated headpieces; other illustrations. Ownership inscription of “Edward J. Paxton, 2444 Master St.” to endpaper. Laid in: 1¼ pages of modern biographical notes on Paxson; 3 leaves of printed proofs for an illustrated poem; one 8½ x 13 inches pen and ink bird’s-eye view drawing; one decorated headpiece; one ms. sheet music bifolium; etc. Two printed plate leaves and another printed plate from contemporary sources tipped in. Boards worn and detached; spine perished; textblock generally sound; some leaves loose. Internally, clean and very good.
Note. 1. Worthington, John Clifford (fl. 1884-1897)—Philadelphia Architects and Buildings accessed online.