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Promenades sur les Bords du Rhin: Mémoires d’Ecoliers en Vacances

First edition of this popular volume of nineteenth-century travel literature, in a publisher's binding featuring arsenical green pigment. Part of publisher Barbou Frères' juvenile series Bibliothèque Chrétienne et Morale, the narrative follows schoolchildren on an educational tour of the Rhine valley. The lithographed frontispiece depicts a view of Pfalz, with a second plate featuring Koblenz (spelled Coblentz.) While different issues of this title have different plate counts, there is no sign of loss or removal in this copy. Provenance: Morris-Levin Collection of Publishers' Bookbindings. Not listed in the Arsenical Books Database compiled by The Poison Book Project, the interdisciplinary research initiative at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and the University of Delaware. An unusually bright copy in a decorative binding containing toxic green pigment. Single volume, measuring 10.5 x 7.25 inches: [7], 8-154. Original deep plum pictorial cloth gilt, Rhine landscape vignette stamped in gilt to upper board; arabesque frames containing decorative elements overstamped in colors, including arsenic green; spine repeating gilt title, decoration, and stamping; lower board with central gilt arabesque frame overstamped in red; yellow coated endpapers; all edges trimmed and gilt. Lithographic frontispiece with tissue guard, one full-page lithographic plate. Spine lightly sunned, lightest edgewear; occasional spot of foxing.
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Jeu de la Grande Roue de Paris

Striking table game published on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of 1900, the world's fair held in Paris to celebrate progress in science, industry, and the arts. The game board features the fair's engineering marvel, the Grande Roue de Paris, the largest Ferris wheel ever constructed. Based on the classic "jeu de l'oie," or game of the goose, this game replaces the traditional sixty-three landing squares with spaces corresponding to the forty carriages of the Grande Roue. The spaces depict monuments, including the Louvre and Eiffel Tower; scientific achievements like the train and automobile; scenes of sports and amusements; and fates to avoid: death, prison, the dentist's chair! Five additional spaces are located outside the wheel, for a total of 45 landing squares. Printer Simonin Cuny specialized in children's games, puzzles, and toys, often drawing inspiration from current events. In 1904, the firm joined four other printers of amusements to form Les Jeux et Jouets Français. A delightful souvenir of the newly constructed Grande Roue de Paris, whose height would not be surpassed for almost a century, in near-fine condition. Game board, measuring 14 x 10.75 inches. Chromolithographed sheet heightened in gold, divided in half vertically, mounted to two red boards joined by a cloth spine, folding to 10.75 x 7 inches. Rules of play printed at base of image, publisher's imprint lower right. Trivial offsetting from glue at center fold, occasional stray mark, trace of old label to upper righthand corner.
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Parsifal. With: two Wagnerian calendars illustrated by Pogány (London and Paris: Liberty & Co., 1914 and 1916)

First edition of Hungarian illustrator Willy Pogány's second treatment of Richard Wagner's 1882 opera Parsifal, issued by Viennese art book publisher M. Munk, featuring different plates than Pogány's initial attempt at the subject in 1912. The story of the Arthurian knight Parsifal's quest for the Holy Grail was one of three Wagnerian operas illustrated by Pogány before the Great War, along with Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. Those editions featured Pogány's carefully integrated images, decorations, and lettering, "designed and illustrated from head to toe, each page a visual construct" (Menges, Willy Pogány Rediscovered). Unlike the London Parsifal of 1912, which recounted the opera's plot in detail, this Viennese version foregrounds Wagner's musical score and libretto text, with interpretive verse by Richard Specht. The reimagined and strikingly beautiful color lithographed plates reflect the improved four-color separation printing process, a technological innovation that visually defined the "Golden Age" of illustration. The popularity of Pogány's Wagnerian imagery inspired a series of small-scale, affordably priced calendars featuring reproductions of the plates. English-language examples of the Tannhäuser calendar and the Parsifal calendar are included here, as companions to this 1920 Parsifal, with text in German. A compelling group of modern high spots of Wagnerian illustration. Three volumes: 1.) Parsifal, measuring 12 x 9.75 inches: [48]. Original color pictorial wrappers. Color pictorial title page, 12 color plates, 22 pages with color pictorial borders surrounding calligraphic text and musical notation, 12 pages of verse within decorative borders. Short scuff to upper wrapper, lower spine chipped. 2.) Tannhäuser Calendar for 1914, measuring 8.25 x 6 inches: [20]. Original color pictorial wrappers, 8 color plates. Disbound. 3.) Parsifal Calendar for 1916, measuring 8.25 x 6 inches: [20]. Original wrappers with color pictorial pastedown, 5 color plates in text. Disbound. All volumes laid into matching marbled chemises, and housed together in a custom clamshell box.
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Too Many Cooks: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

First edition of Rex Stout's fifth Nero Wolfe mystery, in the uncommon dust jacket, with a scarce contemporary inscription. Too Many Cooks finds the orchid-loving, gourmand detective at a meeting of Les Quinze Maîtres, the fifteen greatest world's chefs, as their guest of honor. Wolfe is reluctantly pulled into service when one of the chefs is murdered during a taste-test challenge, and is ultimately satisfied not so much by solving the case as by having obtained a coveted secret recipe for Saucisse Minuit. Too Many Cooks was serialized in The American Magazine before publication, and promoted with a national tour that sent Stout and a cast of actors across the country in a dedicated Pullman car. Each stop featured reenactments of the novel's scenes and special press luncheons that served dishes from the recipes included in the novel's appendix: "dishes as hearty and robust as the crimes which he undertakes to solve," including Terrapin Stewed in Butter, Avocado Todhunter, and Shad Roe Mousse Pocahontas. A scarce signed copy of a high spot of modern detective fiction. Single volume, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: [5], 303. Original red cloth stamped in black, top edge stained black, original unclipped color pictorial dust jacket, priced at $2.00. Recipe appendix printed on blue paper. Inscribed and signed by Stout: "Nov. 22 - 1940 - To Kip with love - Rex." Ink ownership stamp to endpaper above inscription. One-inch stain to fore-edge, expert restoration to jacket.
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Collection des Desseins des Figures Colossales & des Groupes qui Ont Été Faits de Neige

First and only edition of this strange and wonderful production. During the harsh winter of 1772, the artists and art students of Antwerp constructed a series of colossal snow sculptures in the frozen streets and courtyards of the city, each more elaborate than the next, some reaching as high as twenty feet. The subjects were mostly classical - Venus, Hercules, Andromeda - with the occasional nod to local figures and subjects. To memorialize these ephemeral works of public art, the Comte de Robiano commissioned a series of twenty-four plates, with accompanying text by the Antwerp canon Antoon de Vries, recording the subject, dimensions, location, and group of artists responsible for each sculpture. Given the limitations of snow as a medium, the plates represent the ideal form of each work: the text notes the artists' struggle to contain the damage caused by wind and thaw, and their inability to realize some of their more ambitious decorative elements. The work is dedicated to Charles de Lorraine, Governor of the Austrian Netherlands and a patron of the Royal Academy, where many of the artists were students: his portrait is featured on the snow monument depicted on plate 15. Text in French. A fine copy, never bound, of the only record of these long-melted colossi, a testament to printing as "the art preservative of all arts.". Octavo, measuring 8.5 x 6 inches: [16]. Text in sheets, decorative woodcut borders around title and text pages, woodcut tailpiece. Twenty-four numbered engraved plates, loose as issued.
A Streetcar Named Desire (signed by opening night cast

A Streetcar Named Desire (signed by opening night cast, with original Shubert Theatre program and ticket stubs)

First edition of A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams's first play to win the Pulitzer Prize, signed by the entire original cast, including Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden. Produced by Irene Mayer Selznick and directed by Elia Kazan, the original stage production opened in New Haven on October 30, 1947: the program for that first performance is present here, with three ticket stubs from the Shubert Theatre. The show then moved to Boston and Philadelphia before arriving on Broadway, where Tandy would win the Tony for her performance as the fragile, self-deluding Blanche DuBois: "Whoever you are - I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Wolcott Gibbs, in a rave review for The New Yorker, regretted that "there is no way . . . to convey the effect Mr. Williams achieves in his last act of a mind desperately retreating into the beautiful, crazy world it has built for itself." A wonderful association copy, with related ephemera from the very first performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. Single volume, measuring 9 x 6 inches: 171, [1]. Original pink pictorial paper boards, original unclipped pink pictorial dust jacket designed by Alvin Lustig. Ink signatures of the original cast beside their printed names on page 5; former owner's signature to front free endpaper. Shelfwear to boards, jacket spine panel sunned, restoration and light soiling to jacket. With: original program from the October 30, 1947 premiere at New Haven's Shubert Theatre, with three opening night ticket stubs mounted to upper wrapper. Faint tidemark to rear wrapper of program. Book and program housed together in custom clamshell box.
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The Comic Offering; or Ladies’ Melange of Literary Mirth

Complete run of The Comic Offering, the first British humor periodical written, edited, and illustrated by a woman. "Elegantly bound in Morocco, uniquely embossed and gilt," this illustrated gift annual was the work of young Louisa Henrietta Sheridan (1810-1841): "we have not hitherto had, among the catalogue of annual publications, one of a lively nature, exclusively intended for the Boudoir, Drawing-room, and Ladies' Library." While the inaugural volume was written entirely by Sheridan, later volumes featured contributions from popular authors like Agnes Strickland, Susanna Moodie, Thomas Haynes Bayly, Mary Russell Mitford, Thomas Dibdin, and Isabel Hill, providing a more expansive sense of what "women's humor" signified in the early Victorian era. The selections run heavily to puns and nonsense, with many of the narrative pieces poking fun at the rituals of courtship and family life. In "The Archery Meeting," a young woman describes the sport as a transparent pretext for flirtation on everyone's part: "here comes a slander, my bosom which harrows -- / Our glances were surer, they said, than our arrows." This copy of the 1831 volume bears the ownership signature of Elizabeth Brown Coffin Greenly (1771-1839), Regency diarist, painter, and book collector. The volumes for 1832, 1833, and 1834 were presented by sporting author Robert Smith Surtees (1805-1864) to his sisters Elizabeth and Fanny as holiday gifts. Faxon, Literary Annuals and Gift Books, 1173-1177. See also Tamara Hunt, "Louisa Henrietta Sheridan's 'Comic Offering' and the Critics," Victorian Periodicals Review 29:2 (1996). A very good set, in the original publisher's morocco signed by De La Rue. Five 12mo volumes, measuring 6 x 3.75 inches: xii, 351, [1]; xii, 372, [6, ads]; xii, 347, [1]; xii, 346, [2]; xii, 345, [1], [26, ads]. Publisher's maroon morocco signed by De La Rue, embossed with cover design of Punch as puppeteer, spines embossed with comic faces and lettered in gilt, yellow coated endpapers, all edges gilt. Engraved pictorial frontispieces and extra titles; all volumes illustrated with engraved plates and vignettes in text. Ownership signature of Lady Elizabeth Greenly in Volume I; Volumes II-IV inscribed by Robert Surtees to his sisters; Volume IV with bookseller label (Edward Baker, Birmingham, "the most Expert Bookfinder Extant.") Volume II bound without engraved title and final illustration leaf; Volume III bound without frontispiece; two signatures in volume V mis-bound, text complete. Light shelfwear to bindings with expert repair to spine ends and corners, occasional spotting and edgewear to text.