"LITTLE LAMB, WHO MADE THEE?": ONE OF ONLY 50 COPIES OF THIS FINE 1885 FACSIMILE EDITION OF BLAKE'S SONGS OF INNOCENCE, AND ONE OF ONLY FIVE RESERVED FOR REVIEW, PRESENTATION COPY WITH FINE SIGNED LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
BLAKE, William. Songs of Innocence. Edmonton: William Muir, 1885. Quarto, original printed pale blue paper wrappers and white paper spine, with hand lettering on the front wrapper, uncut. Housed in custom cloth chemise and slipcase. $12,000.
Limited edition of this beautiful and faithful reproduction in the original size and color of Blake's famous illuminated book, one of only 50 copies—this copy numbered "O" and one of only five reserved for review. With an autograph letter signed by the editor William Muir describing his labor of love in producing this facsimile, and with his inscription "To the Academy with compliments of the Editor" on the colophon. From the collection of novelist Hugh Walpole.
Blake's great talents extended beyond poetry. He engraved, hand-printed and hand-colored a very small number of copies, which were remarkable for their great beauty; this facsimile is based on one of those copies, and one which he gave to his very close friend and fellow artist, John Flaxman. The excellent 450-word signed letter penned by editor William Muir describes his labor of love: "I want to publish all his books and his best plates… I began copying Blake's originals because of my own liking for them and the thing grew gradually… The first copy of the S. of Innocence took 6 months… I do not advertise—you can quite see that the enterprise can't afford it." The Flaxman copy on which this edition is based is now at the Pierpont Morgan Library; it was part of publisher John Pearson's library at his death in 1884. Though Pearson's name is still listed as the publisher on the colophon and dated 1884, it was in that year that Bernard Quaritch took over publishing this and other Blake facsimiles on behalf of Muir. Bentley, Blake Books, 249A. Keynes 217a. With "Brackenburn" bookplate of English novelist Hugh Walpole on verso of front wrapper. From renowned mid-20th-century New York rare bookseller Philip C. Duschnes, with his label on chemise and typewritten description laid in.
Faint ink marks to colophon; all tissue guards present, plates clean, lovely and fine. Light wear and minor splits beginning at spine. Still a fine presentation copy of this lovely and painstakingly produced facsimile in the original wrappers, with excellent provenance.