84 numbers complete as issued. Dublin: Cuala Press, 1908/15. Folio. Published monthly by Elizabeth C. Yeats and the Dun Emer (later Cuala) Press. Edition limited to 300 copies of each issue. The hand colouring is clean and fresh and of high quality throughout. The Broadsides are in their original portfolios and housed in a custom-made quarter morocco solander box. A very good set.
A Broadside was issued monthly, for seven years, in an edition limited to 300 copies only. Each contains three original woodcut designs by Jack B. Yeats (occasionally more), of which the first two are hand coloured after the artist’s design. The third woodcut, which usually occupies a full page, is generally left uncoloured. Each issue consists of a single folded sheet 280 x 190mm printed on three sides, the last left blank.
Some of the smaller drawings may also be found as Cuala prints or greeting cards, but the majority of the larger illustrations (mostly 125 x 176mm) have never been reprinted. Changes in print technology mean that no modern printer, however expert, could do justice to these plates; hence the original set of Broadsides will remain the only source for this massive anthology of Jack Yeats’ graphic art (over 250 drawings).
The subject matter ranges from his familiar West of Ireland subjects, to the Cockney life of London, his pirate fantasies and illustrations inspired by various poems. The literary contents (chosen by Jack B. Yeats) include: old Irish ballads; sea shanties; poems by Mangan, J.J. Callanan, Padraic Colum, Seamus O’Sullivan and others, and work under several pseudonyms thought to refer to Jack Yeats himself.
Although 300 copies of each issue were printed, the number of complete sets at this stage is very much smaller; and because of the vulnerable format, sets in fine condition throughout (as the one on offer) are almost unobtainable. While prices have understandably been rising, this graphic masterpiece may still be acquired for less than the price of a medium-sized watercolour by the artist.