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Nonsense songs, stories, botany, and alphabets

Lear, Edward First edition, 8vo, pp. [190]; 59 wood-engraved vignettes and 50 lithograph plates after designs by the author; original brown cloth-backed decorative lithographed boards, gilt-stamped spine; light rubbing to extremities and light soiling of the boards; small morocco bookplate of Blairhame on the front pastedown; neatly recased with endpapers renewed; all else very good and sound, and contained in a quarter blue morocco slipcase. Contains the first printing of Lear's most famous work, The Owl and the Pussycat, as well as his beloved song, The Jumblies. Lear is known to have sung many of these songs to children during the 1860s, long before their publication. "Although Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets is dated 1871, it was in the shops in time for Christmas 1870. The publisher, R. J. Bush of 32 Charing Cross Road also published More Nonsense and Laughable Lyrics. It went into five editions, but some time after the fifth edition Bush became bankrupt" (Noakes). This copy was that of Natalie K. (Mrs. J. Insley) Blair, who used the name of her Tudor-style estate in upstate New York, Blairhame, on her bookplate. A renown collector of furniture (much of which she donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), Mrs. Blair was also a serious collector of books particularly buying the best copies she could possibly find of English titles from the 19th century. As is typical for much of Victorial publishers' production work, author and illustrator Edward Lear's books were not manufactured to high standards. Furthermore, Lear's books were avidly read and often exuberantly handled by children as well as their parents. Noakes 82a.