Item #CNJWEM076 The Big ABC Book. Louis Wain, E. H. Stewart.
The Big ABC Book
The Big ABC Book
The Big ABC Book
The Big ABC Book

The Big ABC Book

London: Blackie & Son Ltd, [1921]. Wain, Louis; Stewart, E.H. Hardcover. Folio size, 62 pp. Good +. Item #CNJWEM076

English artist Louis Wain (1860-1939) is known for his trademark anthropomorphic cats, who live in a rich, vibrant world and display playful personalities amidst their alphabetised actions. According to H. G. Wells, "[Wain] has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves" (n. b., quote from Wikipedia).

For this whimsical alphabet book, Wain creates a series of colour illustrations for each of the twenty-six letters, with captions for each image written in verse.

In addition to Wain's ABC section, there are an additional four sections; the second presents the ABCs in a series of hunting scenes (uncredited), the third is also an ABC with anthropomorphic animals of all types (also uncredited); the fourth section, illustrated by E.H. Stewart, follows young children through their day, with each hour of the day properly alloted (e.g., "Seven O'Clock: Waking Time", etc.), the fifth and final section is yet another ABC (also uncredited), setting forth the characters and events when "Amy, her age it was eight" said "I will give an At Home of my own" (please note: there are several scenes in this section presenting stereotypical Golliwogs, which are now considered highly racist).

This work is scarce in the marketplace, with no other copies online as of this writing; OCLC locates only three copies (Princeton, Bryn Mawr, and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin); we see a single auction record (RBH). Interestingly, although Baumgarten lists numerous Wain titles it does not include this work, although it is included in Dale. Volume undated, we believe it to be a 1921 publication based on both Dale and a record found online where the book is listed in "The Saturday Review" for 19 November, 1921.

___DESCRIPTION: Bound in cloth-backed boards, the front board with a full-colour illustration (by or after E.H. Stewart) and the back board covered in plain grey paper, the front endpapers pictorial, with a series of small line drawings of children in blue and the rear endpapers plain, the front free endpaper serving as the title page, every page of each section with colour illustrations; folio size (13 3/8" by 10 1/4"), unpaginated with sixty-two pages (of which the front free endpaper and its verso consitute two).

___CONDITION: A bit better than good, the text block strong although the hinges are tender, the interior is bright with a few stray marks, the sole prior owner marking a child' name, written in a child's hand, on the (blank) verso of the title page/front free endpaper; the binding is generally worn with the corners rubbed, there is overall soil with some marks, and some toning to the free endpapers. Although the binding has been generously used, still a sturdy, good overall copy of a scarce Wain item.

___CITATION: Rodney Dale, "Louis Wain, The Man who drew Cats", p. 136.

___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.

Price: $1,500.00

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