New York: The Heritage Press, (1940). Rackham, Arthur. First Edition. Hardcover. First trade edition with Rackham illustrations, octavo size, 204 pp. Fine / near fine. Item #21082335
British illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) is credited with renewing interest in book illustration at a vital moment of advances in printing technology. The subtle colours and thin lines were unlike anything that had come before, as if plucked from the fog of a wild imagination, breathing new life into the whole of children's book illustration. Part of Rackham's genius was his ability to convey both menace in his grotesque, humanoid trees and trolls, as well as delicate and almost ethereal beauty in his fairies, princesses and heroines.
"The Wind in the Willows", originally published in 1908, with Rackham's illustrations was upon publication acclaimed by the public and was subsequently quickly reprinted, multiple times. When asked by publisher George Macy to provide the illustrations for his upcoming publication of the work, Rackham was shook with emotion. He explained to Macy that "for years he had ardently wished to illustrate the book, and had always regretted that he had refused the invitation of Kenneth Grahame and his publishers nearly thirty years before" (Derek Hudson, "Arthur Rackham, His Life and Work", p. 144).
This was to be Rackham's final work before he passed away in 1939. The Limited Editions Club version would be signed by Bruce Rogers (who designed the book); both it and this, the trade version (published by The Heritage Press) would enter the minds and imaginations of countless generations as the definitive illustrations of the many creatures who populate the story.
___DESCRIPTION: Red linen cloth shelfback with blue cloth sides, yellow lettering stamped onto the spine, yellow illustration of Toad dressed as a washerwoman on the front board, all edges stained red, the twelve full-page colour illustrations bound in throughout, additional line drawings serving as chapter headpieces; octavo size (9 3/8" by 6 3/8"), pagination: [i-vi] vii-xiv, [1-2] 3-190. In the publisher's dust jacket with the printed price ($3.00) at the bottom of both flaps, illustration on the front ("It was a golden afternoon...") with blue lettering above all on a light yellow ground, blue lettering on the spine, publisher's blurb on the back panel, both flaps blank other than the printed price. Ensconced within the publisher's slipcase which design exactly mirrors the dust jacket.
___CONDITION: Volume fine, with clean boards, the red colour on the spine deep and strong (not sunned), straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; the sole condition issue we see a very short, very light stray mark on the cloth at the top of the front board, else the book is as new. The dust jacket near fine, not clipped, clean overall with a hint of dustiness on the spine, a few spots of edgewear with the most noticeable being a very short (less than one-quarter of a inch) closed tear at the top of the back joint. The publisher's box also near fine, strong and sturdy with all seams tightly closed; light overall dustiness and a hint of rubbing to the paper at the bottom of the opening. Overall a remarkably fresh example.
___CITATION: Not in Latimore & Haskell (which was published four years prior, in 1936); Riall p. 197, which notes that "This edition is the 1st appearance of the 14 line drawings, which were not included in the limited edition designed by Bruce Rogers, and are within the text. Riall also notes that the "Wrapper and publishers' [sic] box display the colour plate 'It was a golden afternoon. The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying."
___POSTAGE: International customers, please note that additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.
___Swan's Fine Books is pleased to be a member of the ABAA, ILAB, and IOBA and we stand behind every book we sell. Please contact us with any questions you may have, we are here to help.