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Charles Dickens; John Leech (illustrator). A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a
Ghost Story of Christmas.
London: Chapman & Hall, 1844 [i.e. 1843]. Octavo,
original brown cloth gilt, yellow endpapers, half-title printed in green, title printed in red
and green, copyright page printed in green. Hand-colored frontispiece, three full-page
hand-colored plates, and four black-and-white tailpiece vignettes. Gift inscription, dated
Christmas 1843, on verso of front fly leaf. Bookplate, expert repair to hinges, housed in a
custom slipcase. $28,000.
First edition, in the first impression, first issue binding, of Dickens’s Christmas
classic.Written in a mere six weeks at a low point in Dickens’s career, and
published at his own expense,
AChristmas Carol
revived Dickens’s fortunes,
establishing a robust market for Christmas gift books that survives to this day. The
characters of Scrooge and Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, are immediately
recognizable even to those who’ve never read a word of Dickens: “‘God bless us
every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all. He sat very close to his father’s side, upon
his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and
wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.”
This copy, with the red and green title page and yellow endpapers, appears to be an
unrecorded variant: according to Dickens bibliographerWalter Smith, “the
priority of green endpapers with this title page is deduced as a matter of logical
sequence rather than from any substantial direct evidence. It is not improbable
that at some stage in the binding, the use of yellow and green end[papers]
overlapped.” A near-fine, sparkling example of the first edition.
16
Philip Sidney. The Defense of Poesy.
Glasgow: R. Urie, 1752. 12mo, full
eighteenth-century calf. $1850.
Second separate edition of Sir Philip Sidney’s influential Elizabethan defense of
poetry, following the first edition of 1595, in which he argues that the poet has a
greater impact on the world than the philosopher or historian: “Anger, the
Stoics
said, was a short madness; let but
Sophocles
bring you
Ajax
on a stage, killing or
whipping sheep and oxen, thinking them the army of
Greeks
, with their chieftains
Agamemnon
and
Menelaus
; and tell me, if you have not a more familiar insight into
anger, than finding in the schoolmen his
genus
and
difference
?”
17
Vincenzo Cartari; Richard Linche (translator). The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction.
Wherein is Lively Depictured the Images and Statues of the Gods of the Ancients,
with their Proper and Perticular Expositions.
London: Adam Islip, 1599. Quarto, early
nineteenth-century three-quarter green morocco. $5000.
First and only edition in English of this popular introduction to the iconography of
the Greek and Roman gods, first published in Italian in 1556. Drawing not only
from the expected classical sources like Homer, Ovid, and Virgil, but also from
Renaissance mythographers like Boccaccio, Cartari’s detailed account of the
ancient gods provided Tudor artists and writers with “a symbolic vocabulary”
(Renaissance Quarterly)
. Translated, with many additions, by Elizabethan poet
Richard Linche. A scarce work, with no auction records recorded in more than
thirty years.
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