Review: “The Holy Books of Thelema” Hell Fire Club Edition
A new edition of the Holy Books is now available through Hell Fire Club Books a boutique book publisher out of England who produces high quality bindings and limited editions of titles of interest to the occult community. What makes a Hell Fire Club production unique is the craftsmanship of one Eamonn Loughran. A true master of his trade who lovingly crafts each book the old fashioned way. That is, by hand one at a time, utilizing nothing but the traditional tools of his craft.
“The Holy Books of Thelema” are being offered as a five-volume set and is everything we have come to love and cherish about HFC productions… that is a first-rate production from end to end. Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to view these books (being offered in three formats) first hand and they are truly impressive; living up to all the hype and some.
I may be biased towards my interest in Thelema but I do believe these represent Hell Fire’s finest and most important work to date. These books feel like living talismans with an energy all their own – a testament to the many hours of labor lovingly poured into each volume. Never before have the Holy Books of Thelema been produced in such a high-quality fashion and I must believe that somewhere out there Crowley is grinning from ear to ear. Books of this quality are bound to outlive their owner and to be collectable for centuries to come…
Those whom are acquainted with the true first editions will find much to be familiar. The layout and the font are nearly identical and each page is framed in a manner similar to the first edition… However, here they are framed in red as opposed to gold. (I should also point out that the errors and typos which plagued the early editions have here been corrected – trust me I hunted for them). Showing attention to detail, (and a nice little touch) – as per the original editions each of the first three volumes concludes with an “ownership” page exclusive to that Grade/volume. All five volumes feature red and black ink throughout which looks stunning and volume 5 includes color images of what I believe to be Crowley’s personal Stele. There is also a nice but brief introduction in volume one and a few (but very good) footnotes sprinkled throughout.
For those of you who care these (per original) are a “fill” as opposed to “kill” edition. Not asking for or wanting to stir any controversy I asked the editor why this choice was made – he avoided all politic and simply stated it was how Crowley himself published it each time and that he believed “fill” to be the general consensus for the vast majority of the Thelemic community… with this I had no choice but to agree.
Detail of the new edition
The new edition next to the original from 1909
Now for some of the details… they are being offered in three formats, each a five volume set – The first three volumes closely replicate the true first editions published by Crowley in 1909 for the A∴A∴ – However this set includes two additional volumes. The fourth contains the majority of the “class A” documents not originally included by Crowley in the first three volumes which were designed specifically for use by Aspirants in the earliest stages of their A∴A∴ work. Volume five is a unique presentation of Liber AL, with the manuscript on one side and a matching typescript on the other. Described as The Temple Edition, it was inspired by a 93 publishing edition from 1975.
The three formats: Vellum, Emerald and Sapphire
So my conclusions… all three sets are outstanding! Head, shoulders and a couple of torsos above anything attempted thus far. When considering the amount of labor and cost involved with such an endeavor it is unlikely we will ever see such again anytime soon – this alone should appeal to the collector.
The Vellum editions in particular are of outstanding quality but best left to the most serious collectors among us and for this reason they sold out before they were even produced. The French marbled endpapers on the Emerald set were my favorite of the three and at 220 GBP represents a solid investment, (only a few of these left so you may want to purchase sooner than later here). The final set, issued in dark blue Sapphire, are the best bargain. At only 156 GBP I think they are a steal and for this reason I assume the more popular of the three.
Which ever you choose don’t fret, all three versions feature the same quality paper, printing and binding. They in fact appear to be nearly identical in every way save for the following… Vellum editions come in a special silk lined box/slip case (see images) while the other sets come with more of a traditional, but still very nice, slip case. Each set also utilized different end pages, slightly different volume numbering on the spine, and different grades of leather for the covers. Yet all options and material are top of the line and made in the classic Hell Fire tradition.
Handbound in English Goatskin Vellum and limited to only 11 Sets. Printed in black and red inks throughout onto high quality Rives Tradition 120gsm cream paper, handbound in English goatskin vellum produced by William Cowleys (established 1860), marbled papers by Payhembury. All five volumes are securely contained in a full leather clamshell box bound in Scottish Pentland goatskin with silk linings. (SOLD OUT)
Handbound in Emerald Kid Morocco and limited to only 31 Sets. Printed in red and black inks throughout onto Rives Tradition fine 120gsm cream paper with French marbled endpapers. All five volumes are securely contained in a green cloth slipcase.
Handbound in Dark Sapphire Kid Morocco and limited to only 156 Sets. Printed in red and black throughout onto Rives Tradition 120gsm fine cream paper with French marbled endpapers. All five volumes are securely contained in a blue cloth slipcase