Joe Hill’s Faun Roman Numeral State
The first Roman Numeral book from Conversation Tree Press is a testament to the time-honoured art of bookmaking. Every copy includes original artwork created in collaboration with each collector, hand-drawn illuminated title and drop drops, a full vellum binding with extensive foil stamping, and real mother of pearl inlays.
This page describes the Roman Numeral State of Joe Hill’s Faun. Learn more about the Standard, Deluxe and Lettered here.
Limited to only ten copies each signed by Joe Hill and Francois Vaillancourt, the Roman Numeral state of Faun will be printed as a quarto with a trim size of 240mm x 340mm (9.5in x 13.4in). The typography and layout have been entirely reimagined from the Standard and Deluxe versions to complement the more expansive trim size.
It is a full vellum over boards binding inspired by the Vellucent bindings developed by Cedric Chivers in the late 1800s. Each copy is bound by hand at Ludlow Bookbinders in Shropshire, United Kingdom.
The calfskin vellum is procured from William Cowley in the UK, a storied fourth-generation family enterprise established in 1870, renowned for crafting vellum by hand using age-old expertise and methods.
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Crafted to serve as a doorway to the lands of Palinode, the front board of every copy will feature a unique, original watercolour by Francois, painted in collaboration with each individual collector.
The original artwork is surrounded by authentic, mother of pearl inlays which have been carefully carved and seamlessly joined to frame the artwork perfectly.
Further enhancing the front board is decorative gold foil stamping, which the vellum accepts beautifully, while the boards themselves are extra thick with bevelled edges.
To mark the transition from the world as we know it to the lands of Palinode, trapped in neverending dusk, a single sheet of copper-coloured Lokta paper is inserted at the start of the second part of the book. This Nepalese handmade paper is screenprinted by hand in copper ink and air-dried, producing sheets with variations in the patterns and textures.
The endpapers are made from custom marbled paper, with a design unique to the Roman Numeral state, made by Freya Scott of Paperwilds.
Each Roman Numeral collector will consult with Francois directly to have a thematically-appropriate original watercolour painted. Each painting will be sent to Ludlow Bookbinders to become part of the book, making each copy truly unique.
Of the 12 full colour pieces, 10 are displayed below - the double page spread and one that reveals a significant spoiler are not being shown.
The 3 pen and ink illustrations from the Standard and Deluxe states were redrawn from scratch to make full use of the larger trim sizes of the Lettered and Roman states. This allowed Francois to include significantly more detail, all of which will be perfectly reproduced via letterpress printing from magnesium plates.
When laying out text in the past, designated spaces were sometimes intentionally left blank for drop caps. After the main text was printed, these spaces were then entrusted to calligraphers or illuminators to hand craft each drop cap using a palette of vibrant ink and possibly gold or silver, making each initial both functional and a work of art.
We are collaborating with skilled calligrapher and illuminator Svetlana Molodchenko to bring this harmonious blend of form and function to each copy of the Roman Numeral Faun. Svetlana’s intricate, hand-painted approach, inspired by the likes of Herman Zapf and William Morris, will not only be applied to the two drop caps that mark the beginning of each of the two parts of Faun, but to the title page as well.
Below you can see Svetlana take the drop caps and title page from sketch to finished illuminated art on sample sheets of Gangolf’s lovely handmade paper:
Svetlana’s beautiful work will be hand drawn and painted directly in each Roman Numeral copy of Faun, conveying a sense of wonder and the fantastic to each book.
The edition is set in Eric Gill’s Perpetua and will be letterpress printed by Pat Randle and his team at Nomad Letterpress from metal type newly cast on their Monotype machines. With the type already cast for the Standard and Deluxe states and those books printed, Nomad Letterpress has begun casting a larger size for the Lettered and Roman Numeral states.
“Paper can have the power of life and death.” - Gangolf Ulbricht
The handmade paper for the Lettered and Roman Numeral states of Faun is being specially made for us by German papermaker Gangolf Ulbricht, one of the finest paper makers in the world. Utilizing a combination of European and Asian papermaking traditions, Gangolf uses authentic, historical paper moulds and the traditional preparation of textiles to create paper with rich character.
Designed to stand upright on a collector’s bookshelf, the book is housed in a custom box inspired by the doorway that opens from the side of a hill into the lands of Palinode.
It is constructed with real layered marble stone along the front with a cutout in the shape of a doorway revealing the original artwork. The rough surface is a natural feature of the stone, as are the colour differences and textures, giving each enclosure a unique appearance to complement the unique watercolour artwork on the front board of each copy.
Within, the book fits snugly into a soft but firm inner compartment lined with chocolat brown Suedel.
The Roman Numeral state of Faun has a publication price of US$7,995.
Copies will be first offered to collectors who have supported the press at the Lettered tier of its first publication - Peter Pan. If there is more interest than there are copies available, a lottery will be held.
Owing to the inclusion of time-intensive, original artwork in each copy and the detailed craftsmanship in binding, we anticipate shipments to commence by February 2024.
Each collector of the Roman Numeral Faun will have the right of first refusal (“rights”) to purchase the next Roman Numeral book from Conversation Tree Press during a private pre-order period with a matching roman numeral. Not all future books will have a Roman Numeral state and rights are not transferable. Learn more about our rights system on the FAQ page.