4to in 8s (246 x 185mm), pp. [2 (half-title)], 206; title printed in red and black; early ownership signature on front free endpaper; original RAF-blue buckram boards by A.W. Bain & Co. Ltd., spine lettered and decorated in gilt, upper board blocked in blind with RAF eagle device, top edges blue, dustwrapper, unclipped and retaining prices on both flaps; spine slightly faded, corners very lightly bumped, dustwrapper slightly marked and with slight creasing and chipping, otherwise a very good, clean copy.
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The Mint. A Day-Book of the R.A.F. Depot between August and December 1922 with Later Notes, by 352087 A/c Ross. Edited by A.W. Lawrence.
First British edition, the trade issue. 'One of Lawrence’s avowed purposes in joining the RAF, though not the only one, was to write of the ranks from the inside. He began immediately making notes when he enlisted in 1922. With his dismissal in January 1923, because of unfavourable publicity, the project was set aside, not to be taken up again until he was posted to India in 1927 [...] While in India he edited the text of his earlier notes and began revisions. In March 1928 he sent a clean copy of the revised text to Edward Garnett. Garnett had copies typed which were circulated to a small circle, among them Air Marshal Trenchard [...] Trenchard’s concerned response led Lawrence to guarantee that it would not be published at least until 1950. Later revisions were made by Lawrence in the last months of his life with a possible view to publication in a private edition on a handpress' (O’Brien, pp. 119-120). Although an American edition was printed in 1936 to forestall a possible piracy, the present edition was printed from a later, revised version of the text and the type was set up by Cape in 1948. However, publication was delayed until 1955, when an officer described unfavourably by Lawrence died. The British edition appeared in two issues: the limited issue and the present trade issue 'which had all objectionable words lifted out of the text, leaving blank spaces' (loc. cit.).
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IMAGINARY SOCIETY FOR STRONG LEATHER [ORDER OF CUIRASSIERS].
Patente de cuirassiers.
A very scarce and rather inexplicable handbill, supposedly a declaration by the grand master of the order of cuirassiers and of cuir fort, issued from the fictional city of Tanopolis and in the name of ‘l’Empereur Pataqu’est-ce’. The bill is presented to an estimable gentleman, whose name is blank, contracting him to convert ‘everything that comes out of his mouth’ into leather, i.e. all his expressions, and then in the future to employ two further cuirassiers of his stature. The curious stamp at the bottom left promises guerre a mort aux puristes; who the ‘purists’ are, and what the cuirassiers might have against them, is unclear. Possibly this is a satirical attack on tradesmen producing leather for the war effort, who were increasing their profits by diminishing the quality of their stock. Everything about the handbill speaks of deliberate obscurity: the emperor’s name (‘who-is-it?’), the stamp, the withheld name, and the curious use of the number 1234.