“THE CRAYON IS AS MUCH A CHARACTER AS HAROLD”: FIRST EDITION OF HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON
JOHNSON, Crockett. Harold and the Purple Crayon. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955. 12mo, original half black cloth, pictorial paper boards, original dust jacket. $3200.
First edition of the very rare first book in Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon series, in scarce original dust jacket.
American author and illustrator Crockett Johnson was "a cartoonist whose simplest, sparest, and boldest outlines produced unforgettable, gently humorous, and always endearing caricatures in the world of American children's picture books. His natural gift for drawing and writing from a young child's viewpoint enabled him to craft more than twenty juvenile books," (Silvey, 355) including the most popular among them, Harold and the Purple Crayon. This enormously successful book recounts the nighttime adventures of Harold, who creates his dreams as he draws them with his trusty purple crayon. "With the fewest of lines, Johnson depicts Harold as a toddler clad in sleepers, his chubby hand gripping a fat plum-colored crayon. From page to page, the thick, firm, purple mark delineates Harold's actions against the stark white background so effectively and ingeniously that the crayon is as much a character as Harold. The same economy that informs Johnson's art permeates his text; he writes so concisely of Harold's moonlight stroll that his style perfectly echoes the clarity of his boldly outlined cartoon illustrations" (Silvey). Dust jacket with both corners of front flap price-clipped, indicating a likely later issue (first-issue jackets are generally understood to bear the price of $1.50 on the lower corner, no price on the upper, meaning there would be no need to clip both corners; the next three titles in the series bore prices of $2.00 on the lower corners and $1.50 on the upper corners, to be clipped by the publisher depending on whether the book itself would be the more expensive clothbound "library edition" or the cheaper trade edition in pictorial boards).
Book clean and near-fine, price-clipped dust jacket with a few short closed tears, bright and very good.