London / New York: Ernest Nister / E.P. Dutton, 1876 (1897). Item #02723
An Outstanding Copy
With An Unrecorded Cat Drawing By Louis Wain
[WAIN, Louis, illustrator]. The Games Book for Boys and Girls. A Volume of Old and New Pastimes with Original Illustrations. London / New York: Ernest Nister / E.P. Dutton, 1876 (i.e. 1897).
First edition (true date of publication taken from Bodleian Library pre-20 catalogue). Octavo. 192 pp. Full color frontispiece, miscellaneous black and white text drawings throughout. With an unrecorded text drawing of cats playing cards by Louis Wain on page 59.
Publisher's original pictorial binding in red, gilt, black, white and beige. Beveled edges. Gilt on spine very slightly dull, but still a remarkably fine copy.
Only nine copies in institutional holdings worldwide.
Reissued in 1905, with greatly expanded editions in 1906 and 1907 illustrated by E. Stuart Hardy and Edith Cubitt, who contributed a few to this first edition and dominated the later enlarged issues.
At the end of the 19th century, Louis Wain (1860-1939), the Edwardian cat artist who went mad, became a household name as an illustrator of cats, whom he depicted in all sorts of activities, from skating and playing cricket to driving motor cars, attending dances, and playing musical instruments. “He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves” (H.G. Wells).
“From 1883, Wain began to draw cats as they had never been drawn before, cats in humorous guises, in human situations, but always beautifully handled…though he was sometimes forced to draw dogs before he became well-known!” (Houfe, The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914).
Ernest Nister (1842-1909) "produced more than five hundred mostly undated illustrated books for children, but from the 1890s the firm's production was almost exclusively toy or movable books and Nister introduced many new mechanical techniques… The illustrations in Nister's books—typically featuring affluent, well- dressed, cheerful children at play—were produced by many different artists. The artist's name, however, was often either dropped or missing, while the signature of Nister, as lithographer, was usually found somewhere on the work—thus leading to confusion about attribution. Nister frequently reused illustrations, occasionally adding picture elements that were not in the original work." (The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature).
Not in Dale.