“MY OWN FAVORITE AMONGST MY LITTLE BOOKS”: FIRST TRADE EDITION OF THE TAILOR OF GLOUCESTER, IN RARE DE-LUXE VARIANT FLOWERED CHINTZ FROM POTTER’S GRANDFATHER’S TEXTILE FIRM
POTTER, Beatrix. The Tailor of Gloucester. London and New York: Frederick Warne, 1903. 16mo, original flowered cloth, pictorial endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First trade edition of Beatrix Potter’s second book, described by her as “my own favorite amongst my little books,” with pictorial label, frontispiece and 26 illustrations in color, in rare “de-luxe” variant flowered chintz binding made from cloth provided by Potter’s grandfather’s textile firm.
Inspired by a real-life incident involving a tailor’s pressure to finish a waistcoat for the new mayor of Gloucester, this book “was Potter’s own favorite of all her stories, and one can see why, for in it she indulges her own fascination with the era of her grandparents and great-grandparents… Fairy tale, nursery rhyme and Arcadian fantasy all come together for a moment in perfect balance. No wonder Beatrix Potter was proud of the book” (Carpenter, 148). While most copies of this trade edition were published in boards with a mounted cover illustration, special “de-luxe” copies were bound in lovely calico featuring pansies in shades of periwinkle and purple with yellow and green accents. “Beatrix Potter was concerned with the styles of binding, and it appears that Warnes tentatively suggested the use of brocade for a de-luxe edition. Her grandfather’s firm, Edmund Potter & Co. of Dinting Vale, Manchester, were one of the largest calico printers in Europe, and she felt certain that they would be able to offer some suitable patterns of brocade for these book covers” (Linder, 139). However, after searching for an appropriate sample for an entire month, Beatrix Potter had found nothing. Finally on April 13th, Potter wrote to Warnes stating that she had found a suitable pattern, appropriate for binding both The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester. “Beatrix Potter referred to these books as ‘bound in a flowered lavender chintz, very pretty.’ As it was not practicable to print directly onto the art fabric, the title and author’s name, which appeared on the cover, were printed in gold lettering on small panels of white vellum—there was no lettering on the spine” (Linder, 140). Preceded by a privately printed edition of 500 copies. Linder, 423. Quinby 4.
Tear with minor loss of text to page 35, toning to extremities of binding. A lovely copy in exceptionally good condition. Quite rare.