"HIS WORK APPEALED TO ALL AGES": JOSEPH JACOB'S ILLUSTRATED CELTIC FAIRY TALES, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN BATTEN—ONE OF ONLY 125 COPIES
JACOBS, Joseph (BATTEN, John D., illustrator). Celtic Fairy Tales. London: David Nutt, 1890. Royal octavo, original parchment boards, uncut. Housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase. $850.
Limited first edition of this collection of Celtic fairy tales, number 79 of only 125 copies signed by the publisher, with eight illustrations in double-suite, as well as numerous headpieces, vignettes, and historiated initials by John D. Batten, "probably the best of that group of illustrators who took mythology as the keynote for their work" (Houfe).
Historian, folklorist, and Anglo-Judaica scholar Joseph Jacobs "was a westernized citizen of the Mosaic persuasion who saw no conflict between nationality and religion… In spite of his prolific output, Jacobs still found time to marry Georgina Horne, and they had three children. Perhaps it was the presence of young children around him that encouraged the scholarly Jacobs to turn his attention to the world of folklore and fairy tales… In 1890, with English Fairy Tales, he began a series which was to include Celtic Fairy Tales (1892), Indian Fairy Tales (1892), More English Fairy Tales (1893), and More Celtic Fairy Tales (1894). Jacobs was honorary secretary of the International Folklore Council and editor of Folklore Magazine. His work appealed to all ages; as Israel Zangwill said of this side of his talent, his 'books delighted equally the nursery and the drawing room'" (ODNB). Illustrator John Dixon Batten (1860-1932) "was probably the best of that group of illustrators who took mythology as the keynote for their work and assisted such popularizers of it as Andrew Lang. His drawings derive partly from the German woodcuts that were admired by Pre-Raphaelites and partly from the arts and crafts book decoration of Morris and his followers… Batten took his inspiration from Celtic, Norse and even Indian legends and fairy tales" (Houfe). Publisher's four-page prospectus laid in. Houfe, Dictionary of 19th-Century British Book Illustrators, 56. Bookplate.
Interior clean, only mild rubbing to extremities and slightly toned parchment. Near-fine condition. Scarce.