New York, NY: Gordon Press [ Headland Press ], 1974. First Edition Thus. Hardcover. Octavo. xxii + 141pp. Publisher's red cloth with gilt title etc to spine and upper board. An unusual union of the Gordon Press edition of "Clouds Without Water" with a custom dust jacket specially produced for it by the late Gregory Von Seewald (1955-2013) under the auspices of his Headland Press in 2011. The Gordon Press was a mysterious small press, about which there has been much speculation. For some reason, in the early 1970s, they decided to produce good quality hardcover reprints of works by Crowley, including many of his early volumes of poetry and plays. Between 1973 and 1975 they produced around 20 Crowley titles, each with a print run of 200 copies or less. Given small print-runs, and seemingly terrible distribution, they seldom appeared on the market, and already by the 1980s and 1990s they were generally regarded as scarce by collectors. Then, in the 2000s, someone discovered a large number of boxes containing brand new copies of about a dozen of the Gordon Press titles. One of those of which a quantity was discovered was their edition of "Clouds Without Water" (1974).
Internally the Gordon Press edition is a nicely produced largely-facsimile reprint of the first edition which was originally published semi-clandestinely in 1909 by Renouard of Paris. While quite acceptable, the binding of the Gordon Press edition was not particularly attractive, and as copies of the book were readily available at relatively modest price Gregory Von Seewald hit on the idea of buying up a small number of copies, creating a dust jacket for them, and distributing them to friends. The design of the jacket reflected the patterned wrappers of the first edition, and was printed on hand-made French paper, with a marbled pattern, and issued in a protective brodart sleeve. It is not known with certainty how many book / dust jacket sets Von Seewald produced, but he suggested to a friend that it was about half-a-dozen. This is thus an example of Von Seewald's dust jacket, together with the Gordon Press book.
"Clouds Without Water" is largely comprised of poetry with some erotic undertones - which presumably explains why Crowley playfully published it under the name of a fictitious Priest "The Rev. C. Verey" and had the words "Privately Printed for Circulation Amongst Ministers of Religion" printed on the title page of the original edition. The contents are listed as: Preface; The Manuscript; Dieu libre et libertin. A Quean of the Quality. A Terzain; I. The Augur; II. The Alchemist; III. The Hermit; IV. The Thaumaturge; V. The Black Mass; VI. The Adept; VII. The Vampire; VIII. The Initiation. Notes.
A photograph of a copy of the first edition of "Clouds Without Water" with the printed details of this dust jacket on the back is loosely inserted; Von Seewald apparently included one with each copy that he distributed. There is also a small clipped note in Von Seewald's hand "93 / For Clive / 93 93/93." The Clive is Clive Harper, from whose collection this comes. With his discrete book-label neatly tipped in at the rear. Harper is well- known as the bibliographer of Austin Osman Spare, for updating the Aleister Crowley bibliography in the 2011 Teitan Press collection of Gerald Yorke's writings, and as someone who has lent his expertise to numerous other publications. A lovely clean near-Fine copy of the Gordon Press book, in mylar protected Fine custom dust jacket made by Gregory Von Seewald. Scarce thus. Item #66635