[London]: Published by The Great Western Railway, Paddington Station, W.2., In the Centenary Year of the Company [printed by Wyman & Sons Limited, Reading], 1935. First Edition. Hardcover. First printing, quarto size, 96 pp. Very good +. Item #CNJWEM032
William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) was an exemplary book illustrator and cartoonist, "the only British illustrator to become a 'household name' " (Houfe), a contemporary of acclaimed illustrators Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, best known for his cartoons portraying elaborate and whimsical machinary made to complete simple tasks. In fact, his fame was such that the term "Heath Robinson" was used in the United Kingdom to refer to such machinary, much as the term "Rube Goldberg" was used in the United States.
The Great Western Railway, founded in 1835, asked Robinson to produce a series of illustrations concerning railways, which he did in his inimitable style. While this work is listed in Appendix A in Beare, there is no description; however, a prior owner marking on the front free endpaper states there were a "few copies bound up in boards for presentation". There is indeed a pencilled inscription on the front free endpaper with the date of "31.8.1935" (August 31, 1935); since, as of this writing, every other copy of this work online is in wraps, that indeed appears to be the case.
___DESCRIPTION: Textured paper over boards, with a wrap-around cartoon in green, yellow, white and black of a Robinson cartoon, price on the front board set within the steam coming out of a train engine of "1/-", pencilled inscription on the front free endpaper which is very difficult to decipher (could be "Com[liments] from A.M.L.M. (?) 31.8.1935", half-title page with a small vignette cartoon ("Nut Cracking on the G.W.R."), frontis a full-page black-and-white cartoon illustration captioned "Mr. W. Heath Robinson's own private railway engine, not often allowed on the G.W.R.", title page with a small Robinson vignette ("The Stowaway"), another Robinson cartoon on the verso of the title page, a Foreword dated May, 1935 by "G.W.R" that states in part "The Company, serious in its determination to maintain the enviable reputation that it has acquired in the past, is, as will be seen in the pages that follow, not without a sense of humor in giving Mr. W. Heath Robinson a free hand to apply his skill to the portrayal of certain events in its history", each page with a single Robinson cartoon, each captioned, about half of them full-page; quarto size (10" by 7.5"), pagination:  2-96.
___CONDITION: A bit better than very good; the paper boards are clean, the text block is strong with solid hinges, the interior pages clean and bright, the only prior owner markings being the pencilled presentation inscription referred to above, and the prior owner (also pencilled) notation about this being one of the "few copies bound up in boards for presentation"; some light wear to the binding, mostly at the head and tail of the spine and cornres, a bit of toning to the white lettering on the front board near the top edge of the boards, a very slight lean to the text block, edges of the text block and the endpapers somewhat foxed, a bit of very light foxing within. Overall an extremely solid example of a scarce version of Robinson's work.
___CITATION: Beare, Appendix A no. 12.
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