The first edition of The Pond-published by Aperture in 1985 and one of the most important photography books in the history of the medium-included an original gelatin-silver image printed by John Gossage himself and tipped onto the cloth cover of the book. This was a special and luxe addition to an already stunning book, which, ironically, came about because the budget wouldn’t allow for it.
The Pond‘s funding was maxed out with the book’s cloth binding, high-end paper, and extra-long dust jacket with custom color inks. It simply didn’t allow for any more extras, like a tip-on image, which is typically printed as an extra sheet with the rest of the pages of the book. Since what happens underneath a dust jacket is not immediately visible, and, in fact, many readers don’t ever remove it, adding more features there can drive costs up without necessarily adding more perceived value to a book. In short, adding a manufactured tip-on just didn’t make financial sense.
However, it does make for a nice surprise for those who take the time to remove the jacket, and John saw that if he printed the tip-ons himself, he could add this feature without affecting the book costs significantly. As he put it, “It required my effort. But it was just some trouble, and so I did it.” This meant, though, that he needed to make over 2,500 prints! Faced with days in the darkroom, John decided to include six different images so he wouldn’t grow bored. He chose images that commented on the interior of the book, but that weren’t included within, in order to keep attentive readers on their toes and intrigued. Five out of the six images were a series of frames of a string blowing in the wind. The sixth image was a wild card: a menacing junkyard dog behind a fence. While all the images spoke to the kind of beautiful imperfection in the borderland between man and nature surrounding the pond, the dog seemed to guard the book in a very direct way, quietly growling at the viewer.
John made extra copies of each of the prints so that the printer would have more than 2,500, in case any damage occurred during production. After the book was made, the printer returned the leftover images to John. In the end, he got a disproportionate number of dog prints back. This meant that fewer of these prints were tipped onto books that went into circulation, making a copy of The Pond with a dog print tipped onto the cover even more rare.
It also means that John has some extra copies of vintage dog prints. To our great surprise and honor, he has generously donated one of these prints, along with a first edition of the book, to Aperture for this year’s Benefit and Auction. Now you have a chance to own this amazing, storied print and first edition book, and at the same time support Aperture’s publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.
Blog post by Denise Wolff
For more information on our Benefit as well as bidding online and in-person, please click here.
Don’t miss your last chance to buy tickets to the 2010 Aperture Benefit and Auction and SNAP! Benefit Party on November 1st! This year there are a number of available ticket packages to choose from. Enjoy Aperture’s Silent and Live Auctions as well as the Benefit dinner honoring photographer Richard Misrach, Steven Ames and Julie Saul from 6:00 to 9:30PM.
Or join us for the SNAP! Benefit Party, from 9:30 to 11:30PM, and dance the night away to music spun by special guest DJs and downtown fixtures Tim Barber of Tinyvices.com, AJ Slim and Jeannie Hopper of LiquidSoundLounge.com and ARTonAIR.com. This year the SNAP! Benefit Party will also include Aperture’s first ever Emerging Artists Auction featuring works by artists Jen Davis, Mark Lyon, LaToya Ruby Frazier, among others, an open bar and gourmet bites as well as an exciting selection of raffle prizes including theater tickets, dinner for two and many more!