Layaway fell through; back on the market ...
Children in Late Victorian and Edwardian times were the first to enjoy the gorgeous Fairy Books edited by Andrew Lang: 12 anthologies of fairytales from around the world, each named for a different color. The volumes debuted between 1889 and 1910, so this 1901 book appeared about midway through the series. By then, many illustrations were in color and the covers had become works of art. Here, in a gilded and lyrical Art Nouveau swirl, a Puckish lad amid toadstools offers an enormous violet to goddess-like fairies flying above in the moonlit, starry sky. More fairies stand sentinel beneath violets on the gilded spine. Inside, the gilt-edged pages include 7 full-page color plates in the medievalist Art Nouveau style so popular then, plus an abundance of full-page b/w plates (33) and in-text illustrations (25). The artist for this book (and many others) was H.J. Hunt.
Because of its great beauty (and scarcity, compared to some other volumes in the series), collectors of fine antiquarian books pay more than $2,300 for a first edition of The Violet Fairy Book, provided it’s in exceptional condition. Ours is a great deal more affordable, because it has a few problems. Fortunately, they don’t affect the stunning colored plates which comprise so much of its value.
To begin with what’s right, the publisher’s original binding of gilded violet cloth is still firmly attached; the gilded page edges remain brilliant; and every illustration is present, as are the black-coated end papers at both front and back and even the tissue protector over the frontispiece. Too, the fascinating stories contained in the book are fully readable, with the one exception noted below.
Now for what’s wrong. Besides the minor foxing and general wear you’d expect on any book this old, there are touches of child-artistry on three of the lesser b/w images (neatly adding color to costumes); a later owner wrote her name and the year 1935 on the title page; a couple of small holes and a short tear appear in text page margins; the cover has frayed and bumped corners; and the spine shows fraying at top and bottom and separation of fabric at the back. More severe is a crack that shows up internally in two spots: at the front (between end papers and on the title page that follows, which is loose at the base) and between pages 206 and 209 – where, lamentably, page 207/208 was removed. Stitching is visible here, but not broken. The page couldn’t have fallen out, so somebody must have wanted the content for some reason. It wasn’t an illustration, since the index cites none on the page. (That page from the story “Jesper Who Herded the Hares” can be easily replaced by making a copy at the library.)
What a difference a few relatively minor glitches can make to the value of a rare first edition – in this case, more than $2000-worth. Higher prices are being asked online for a few others in only fair condition, with no damage to the colored plates, so ours is an especially good bargain. Even later editions with wear often sell in the hundreds.
There’s no charge for insured U.S. shipping, with an equivalent discount on international delivery, and gift-wrap is always free when desired. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!