"WITH EVERY KEWPISH GOOD WISH": FIRST EDITION OF THE KEWPIE PRIMER, CALLIGRAPHICALLY INSCRIBED BY ILLUSTRATOR ROSE O'NEILL
(O'NEILL, Rose, illustrator) QUINN, Elisabeth V. The Kewpie Primer. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, (1916). Octavo, original pictorial blue-stamped gray cloth. $1500.
First edition of this primer for an American comic legend—the Kewpie doll, richly illustrated with Kewpies on every page in black and orange, inscribed by the illustrator on the pictorial endpaper: "With every kewpish good wish from Rose O'Neill."
"Rose Cecil O'Neill was an iconoclast in every sense of the word. A self-taught bohemian artist, who ascended through a male-dominated field to become a top illustrator and the first to build a merchandising empire from her work, with her invention of the Kewpie doll… In 1907, O'Neill began developing short illustrated stories featuring cherubic characters, who 'did good deeds in a humorous way.' The comic strip 'The Kewpies' premiered in Ladies' Home Journal in 1909 and was an instant hit. The strip's spectacular popularity inspired her to envision the Kewpie as a doll. Kewpie dolls hit the shelves in 1913 and immediately became a phenomenon—it took factories in six different countries to fill orders. The Kewpie became the first novelty toy distributed worldwide and earned O'Neill a fortune" (Heather Thomas, Library of Congress). Without dust jacket. Contemporary gift inscription in an unknown hand below O'Neill's signature reading: "To 'Peggy' Hartley. 441. Eastern Parkway. Brooklyn. N.Y. at The Commodore Hotel.—26th Septr: 1924.—"
Interior fine, only faint soiling to cloth. A near-fine copy. Scarce.