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Feast of the Animals: An Alaska Bestiary (1987)

Written by Sheila Nickerson;
Wood Engravings by Dale DeArmond
Published by Old Harbor Press

Regular edition of 3000

Limited edition of 50 (softcover)
Limited edition of 30 (flexible, threaded, Japanese-style binding)

Editor's note: an early title for this book was A Northern Bestiary. DeArmond knew that if she were to begin to master the craft, she needed a project that would keep her engraving every day. She made a proposal to Sheila Nickerson, a poet and friend, that they create a bestiary of Alaskan birds and animals. They made a list of the creatures and Sheila created fifty-five short poems in a few weeks. It took Dale two years to complete the engravings, twenty-nine of which appear in this book. Some were done over as many as four times.

The regular edition is unnumbered and unsigned, though Dale autographed many at book signings. The limited editions are signed, individually numbered, and house an embedded, original, hand-pulled wood engraving print. They seem especially scarce; no institutions (libraries or museums) have been found to have any copies in their archives. An image of the fifty-edition version is currently unavailable.

From the included colophon:
This book was handset in 14-point Bembo type, printed with an original Heidelberg platen press on Mohawk Letterpress Text paper. Three thousand copies are bound in Neenah Classic Laid paper. A special edition, signed by the author and artist, is bound in Canson Mi Teints paper, with Moriki end sheets and is encased with a print, hand pulled by the artist, from the original wood engraving. Fifty copies of this edition have soft covers and thirty copies are in Japanese bindings.

The title of this book comes from the Eskimo observance of a feast day to honor the animals and birds who have let themselves be killed so that people can have food and clothing and the many artifacts they make from the hides and bones and beaks. At one point in the ceremonies the hunters return to the sea the bladders of the animals they have killed so that the inuas (souls) can return to them and there will be more animals the following year.

The illustrations shown below appear in this book; click on any image for more information. For volume II, click here.

Original price: paperback: $12.95​; limited edition: $50.00
ISBN: 9780961552947
ISBN: 9780961552992
ISBN: 0-96-155294-8