London: Methuen and Co., 1908. Item #04880
A Near Fine First Edition of Kenneth Grahame’s Children’s Classic
In the Original 'Second Issue' Pictorial Dust Jacket
GRAHAME, Kenneth. ROBERTSON, Graham, illustrator. The Wind in the Willows. With a frontispiece by Graham Robertson. London: Methuen and Co., .
First edition. Small octavo (7 1/2 x 4 7/8 inches; 190 x 124 mm.). , 302, [1, blank], [1, printer’s imprint] pp. Frontispiece with original tissue guard.
Publisher's blue cloth pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt within a single gilt rule border on front cover and pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt on spine. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Early ink signature "Bloomfield" on front free endpaper. Minimal rubbing to corners and spine extremities, the gilt bright and fresh. Some scattered light foxing otherwise a near fine copy in the second issue publisher's pictorial peach color dust jacket printed in black with price of 7/6 instead of 6/-. Front flap with neat five-line ink manuscript 'Recipe for Limericks' on verso. The spine of the dust jacket slightly darkened, a couple of tiny chips at head but certainly one of the best, totally original and unrestored jackets that we have seen. Housed in a three quarter dark green morocco over cream buckram boards, spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in compartments.
The last copy in the first issue dust jacket to appear at auction fetched £60,000 ($75,000) at Sotheby's London, June 15th, 2015 (lot 46).
The Wind in the Willows, “one of the central classics of children’s fiction, was Grahame’s fourth book… It began life as a series of bedtime stories told to his son Alastair, known as Mouse… the first of these was told on Mouse’s fourth birthday, 12 May 1904, and concerned ‘moles, giraffes & water-rats’, these being the animals the boy had selected for subject… Probably the stories continued at intervals over the next three years; certainly a lengthy narrative in which Toad played the principal part (and in which there were no giraffes) had been begun by May 1907. During that month Mouse was on holiday on the South Coast with his governess, Miss Stott, and his father wrote him a series of story-letters… The letters, some of which were addressed to ‘Michael Robinson’, Mouse’s pet name for himself, continued every few days until September (there are 15 in all, with one apparently missing from the series); they describe Toad’s adventures much as in the published book, but pay no more that cursory attention to Rat, Mole, and Badger” (The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature).
“Arthur Rackham was asked to illustrate the first edition, but was unable to accept the commission. He deeply regretted this decision, but shortly before his death he was able to illustrate the edition which was published by the Limited Editions Club of New York in 1940” (Osborne Collection).
Osborne Collection I, p. 349; Grolier. One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature. no. 61.