London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1857. Single volume, measuring 9.5 x 7.5 inches: , , 9-24; eight color plates inserted throughout text. Original blue pictorial cloth stamped in gilt and blind, yellow coated endpapers. Four plates of sheet music, printed on alternate rectos and versos, setting “The Butterfly’s Ball” for voice and piano and for two voices. Eight full-page color plates. Early ink gift inscription to front free endpaper. Lightest edgewear to binding.
First edition of this popular Victorian adaptation of William Roscoe’s 1806 poem, “The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast,” reprinted here with musical accompaniment. Scottish artist Robert Ballantyne expands Roscoe’s rhymes into an extended prose narrative, illustrated with festive insects in party dress and dancing shoes: “There were such a multitude of odd creatures, of all shapes, and sizes, and colours; some of whom were by nature bitter enemies, and would have fought and killed each other had they met in the woods while taking a walk, but were quite civil and polite to one another, now that they met as guests in Mrs. Butterfly’s bower.” A bright, near-fine copy of a delightful illustrated book.