London: Cassell & Company, 1889. Single volume, measuring 9.75 x 7.25 inches: 40. Original pale blue cloth spine, color pictorial paper boards, floral patterned endpapers. Color illustrations on every page. Full-page advertisement for Walter Crane’s Legends for Lionel and eight-page publisher’s catalog bound at rear. Pages double-folded and uncut, as issued. Lightest shelfwear and occasional smudge to boards.
First edition of Walter Crane’s floral fantasy, a masque representing the history of the year through a series of colorful personified flowers: “The sullen winter nearly spent, / Queen Flora to her garden went, / To call the flowers from their long sleep, / The year’s glad festivals to keep.” One of the leading book illustrators of his time, Walter Crane fell under the spell of the Pre-Raphaelites while apprenticed to the wood-engraver W.J. Linton, and later worked closely with William Morris at the Kelmscott Press. Crane’s devotion to an ideal unity of design is evident in the sharp outlines and flat tints of his full-page illustrations, and in the hand-lettered text set within the picture field, suggestive of illuminated manuscripts. A near-fine copy of a chromolithographic classic.