London: William Heinemann, 1912. Item #03987
Arthur Rackham Illustrates Aesop's Fables
First Trade Edition in the Excessively Rare Pictorial Dust Jacket
[RACKHAM, Arthur]. Aesop's Fables. A New Translation by V.S. Vernon Jones with an Introduction by G. K. Chesterton and Illustrations by Arthur Rackham. London: William Heinemann, 1912.
First trade edition. Small square octavo (8 x 5 7/8 inches; 202 x 149 mm.). xxix, [1, blank], 223,  pp. Thirteen color plates, including frontispiece, with captioned tissue guards, fifty-three black and white drawings of which nineteen are full page.
Publisher's green cloth, front cover and spine pictorially decorated and lettered in gilt, lower cover with publisher's blind stamp, pictorial end-papers printed in green, top edge stained green. Very slight browning on pictorial front end-paper from loosely inserted Leicester Galleries leaflet. A fine and bright copy. Complete with the original color pictorial dust jacket, the front panel with a reproduction of the color plate facing p. 84 "The Blackamoor", the spine correctly priced "6/= net" and advertising the 1912 Heinemann publication "The Four Gardens on the back". Dust jacket chipped at lower left of front panel, small chip on lower right corner, and small chip at top of spine, but with no loss of lettering. One small 'tape' stain at top of jacket spine. An excellent example of this original pictorial dust jacket. Loosely inserted is the original Leicester Galleries exhibition leaflet.
In over fifty years I have only ever seen two copies in the original dust jacket - the last one we sold in 2002.
"In Aesop's Fables (1912)...Rackham's primary intention was to amuse, but his illustrations for fables of 'The Moon and her Mother' and 'The Gnat and the Lion' suggest the imaginative refinement that he brought to the task. Rackham was often his own model; there are several self-caricatures to be detected in Aesop's Fables. He is the man who catches the flea, the pompous gentleman who scoldsd the drowning boy, the credulous slave-owner who scrubs the black boy" (Hudson, Derek. Arthur Rackham His Life and Work, p. 94).
Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BC.
The 1st century AD philosopher, Apollonius of Tyana, is recorded as having said about Aesop: "... like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, he made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he adds to it the advice to do a thing or not to do it. Then, too, he was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be true, told the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book V:14).
Latimore and Haskell pp. 38-39; Riall, p. 111.