Your Favourite Crowley First Edition and Why?
I thought it might be interesting to introduce first time collectors, and wannabe collectors (such as myself, financially) to some of the beautiful first editions of Crowley's books. To do this I thought we could all say what we feel our favourite first editions of Crowley's books are, and why we feel that way, whether we own them or not. And include hte best picture you can find of said edition.
For my part, my favourite first edition by him is definitely The Book of Thoth. I say this although I have never seen one in person, because I feel the leather work on the binding, the gilding, and the Egyptian paper/cloth on the boards is just gorgeous. And on top of that all of them have inscriptions by the man himself. So I think it is the prettiest and if one ever came on the market (I wish) I would totally buy it even if it took me a decade to pay for. Another reason I like it a lot is the content; it is the last book he wrote that includes new magickal information and even if you don't particularly like the tarot, I think you can find much information of use in it, and it is interesting to see how his views changed later in life.
Heres the best pic I could find,
I agree, The Book of Thoth is a handsome tome! The bibliophile in me overtakes the student at times...I'd love just to see some "book porn" from our members shelves!
I don't own any first editions myself; however I know someone who has several.
I really like the first edition of The Equinox of the Gods, it contains a full-size reproduction of the manuscript of The Book of the Law, but they are on separate pages, rather than bound into the book. I think that would provide a pretty ideal reading experience of Liber XXXI.
I can't say for sure that it is my favorite first edition, but aesthetically I've always loved "Mortadello" (see Bibliographia Thelemica):
The gold design on the white buckram is great and the fact that it was published by Eugene Wieland is fantastic. I actually InterLibraryLoaned a first edition for myself and read it. Great feel in the hand. Ironically, its not one of my favorite plays, but still its a lovely book.
Otherwise "Konx Om Pax" in any binding (for both its content and its beauty) and the subtley of the first edition of "Household Gods" (again I love the combination of white buckram and gold).
Oh, my favorite is the 1st Ed. Equinox set a friend of mine bought from Helen Parsons-Smith 40-odd years ago: it's the set that Jack gave her as a wedding present, and is inscribed, but that's strictly for the provenance.
Equinox of the Gods is a fantastic example of book production; likewise the Book of Thoth and the similar 20 special copies of Olla.
I always thought the cover design for Goetia was very ahead of its time. The Book of Lies is fantastic in black buckram with the gold Egyptian motifs to the cover - a design beautifully executed on the three Holy Books, bound in vellum and printed on Japon with each page bordered in gold - truly wonderful.
In my opinion, Crowley doesn't get the recognition he deserves for his contribution to 20th century book design (among other things of course!)
ALthough I've never actually seen one my favourite 1st would be the special boxed editions (I think there were 8 ) of AL that AC produced for his closest followers.
I didnt know they had something like that around. I will try and find a picture. Thanks for mentioning it nox 🙂
Good luck, Chris!
The sixty-five leaves of manuscript, paginated 1-22,  2-22, 1-21, were photographed and printed, reduced (contrary, still, to Aiwaz's requirements) on photographic paper, and housed in a scarlet leather-covered box with a fitted lid. The title-leaf, correctly on handmade paper and printed in red and black, reads: 'A L. Liber Legis. The Book of the Law sub figura XXXI as delivered to Ankh-af-na-khonsu the Priest of princes who is 666. Now privately issued after 22 years of preperation to eleven persons. Anno 0 Sol in 18° 32' 45" Aries Luna in 7° 16'55" Pisces [i.e. 9 April]. From the Lair of the Lion.' The limitation page is most revealing for it prints a list of eight of the eleven people to whom copies were presented:
'No. 1. To 777-418' [Charles Stanfield Jones [...]]
'No. 2. To 31-666-31; 667' [Leah Hirsig, 'Alostrael' [...]]
'No. 3. To Saturnus' [Karl Germer [...]]
'No. 4. To 516' [Jane Wolfe [...]]
'No. 5. To Ich Will: O. G.' [Otto Gebhardi [...]]
'No. 6. To 666' [Crowley]
'No. 7. To 666-14' [Perhaps Dorothy Olsen [...]]
'No. 8. To ΘΣα' [Dorothea Walker]
Then follow the copies for sale and their prices: No. 9 at £93; No. 10 at 418 US dollars; No. 11 at its equivalent in German Reichsmark, Rm 2542, the copy presented to or more likely paid for by Fra. N.
Quoted from Timothy D'Arch Smith's highly recommendable Books Of The Beast. Frater N.'s (Gerald Yorke) copy No. 11 is housed in the Warburg Institute, London.
I never saw a photograph of one of these and I really would enjoy doing so. It sounds fantastic.
And I agree with fama_fraternitatis: Aside from D'arch Smith excellent essay Crowley receives way too little recognition for his book design. Okay, his recognition mostly is proven by the prizes for his first editions. Since most of those are each very special it is hard for me to name a favourite.
I didn't know about it either until I read about it in "Perdurabo".
Thank you Chrisibrany for the compliments on my copy of Thoth! I has two together at one time but had to let one go. Numbers 20 and 22. Twenty was a true half leather variant which are qutie scarce. The copy you see above was sent back to the original binder in the the 70's and the half leather tips were installed as reparirs to corner bumping.
That said, it is one of them most interesting firsts that Crowley produced but a few others seem to be more interesting as you see the body of his work collected over time. I have 60 to 70 Crowley firsts sitting in the safe and one that always makes me slow down and enjoy is the Deluxe Vellum Songs of the Spirit #7 of 50 signed by the old man. It is near fine and the white vellum just feels right. And Durga23 is spot with Mortadellol! Breathtaking
Please excuse the above typos. My apologies.P
Crowley receives way too little recognition for his book design
I regard that, as amongst his greatest achievements - I am not being sacrastic either. It is quite superb.