"BEN-HUR OFFERS MUCH TO INSPIRE AN ARTIST’S PENCIL": ILLUSTRATED LIMITED EDITION OF WALLACE'S CLASSIC NOVEL, ONE OF ONLY 350 COPIES, WITH 20 PHOTOGRAVURES AND NEARLY 1000 MARGINAL DRAWINGS
WALLACE, Lew. Ben-Hur. A Tale of the Christ. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1892. Two volumes. Octavo, original vellum boards, yapp edges, uncut. $3200.
Limited “Garfield Edition,” number 131 of only 350 copies, profusely illustrated with 20 photogravures and numerous marginal line drawings, adorning virtually every page. With an autograph letter signed by Wallace laid in.
"The romance Wallace is most famous for, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, is second only to Uncle Tom's Cabin as the most popular American fiction of the 19th century and, indeed, in its various cinematic versions"—most famously, the 1959 epic starring Charlton Heston, with its dramatic chariot race—"is one of the most popular works of all time" (ANB). Ben-Hur "offers much to inspire an artist's pencil… To Mr. Arthur B. Turnure of New York City belongs the credit of conceiving the plan of making a new edition… with marginal illustrations on every page… The gigantic work of preparing the illustrations, nearly 1000 in number, was undertaken under the direction of William Martin Johnson… [The illustrations] combine to a rare degree historical accuracy with artistic merit… Photogravures illustrate special scenes in the life of Christ" (Publishers Weekly, December 1891).
The autograph letter reads in full: "Crawfordsville, Ind., March 22nd. '95. Messrs Harper and Brothers, Gentlemen. I saw some weeks ago a newspaper paragraph to this effect that the solicitor of Treasury Dep't has repeated that Ben-Hur, having been copyrighted in 1880, was not within the law of 1891: so there was nothing to prevent the importation of foreign editions of this book. This, if approved, seems far reaching. Please inform me of the exact effect of the report, and what steps, if any, you have taken in the matter. Respectfully, Lew. Wallace." There is a notation in the upper left corner, presumably from the publisher, of "ans Mar 26 1895." First published 1880.
Interiors fine, vellum with typical soiling to spines. An excellent set.