London & Cambridge: Macmillan & Co., 1863. Item #01480
"Just Another Destitute Little Chimney-Sweep"
"The Oddest Fairy Tale That There Has Ever Been…
A Near Fine Copy Of The First Edition of The Water-Babies
KINGSLEY, Charles. The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby. With two illustrations by J. Noel Paton, R.S.A. London & Cambridge, 1863.
First edition, first state. Small square octavo (8 x 6 1/8 inches; 201 x 156mm). [viii], [1-3], 4-350, [1 advertisements], 1 blank. With the ‘L’Evoi’ leaf inserted after the dedication. Inserted frontispiece and full-page illustration opposite p. 145. With eight large engraved initial chapter letters.
Original dark green fine-grain cloth, front cover with gilt triple-rule border enclosing a pictorial gilt center device depicting Tom, a Fish and a Sea-Horse. Spine ruled and lettered in gilt. Dark brown coated endpapers, top edge gilt. With the binders ticket of Burn of Kirby St., on the rear pastedown and a small booksellers ticket (John Smith & Son, Glasgow) on the front pastedown. Hinges just starting and top of spine with two very small splits. Otherwise a superlative copy, the gilt bright and fresh, of this scarce children’s classic. Housed in a fleece-lined green cloth clamshell case.
Together with a letter dated July 6th, 1950, from David A. Randall (Scribner Book Store NY) to a a former owner (Eugene Grossman) stating “Incidentally, I have just heard from my London agent that you ordered a book (The Water Babies, 1st Issue) from an English catalogue which I wanted very much. If you get a good copy of this book you really have a scarce item.”
"Charles Kingsley was a rural vicar in Victorian England, and the "land-baby" of the sub-title was his youngest son, five-year-old Grenville Arthur. In writing this fairy tale about the underwater adventures of Tom, a chimney-sweep's climbing-boy, Kingsley uttered many a sermon. But along with his zeal for Anglican Christianity he also brought into play his enthusiasm for nature and his strong sense of indignation at the Victorian practice of using small children as laborers. This copy is from the rare first issue of the first edition. It contains a leaf bearing a poem, L'Envoi. Kingsley had second thoughts about this while the book was being printed, and he had the leaf removed, but not before a few hundred copies of the book had already gone forth." (Gottlieb, Early Children's Books and Their Illustration, 113).
Grolier 100, 34.