1867 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "Fifth thousand" printing, and 1872 Through the Looking Glass, first edition (with "wade" misprint)


A very early (fifth thousand) printing of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, dated 1867, but actually printed in 1866 (this copy has a "Xmas 1866" gift inscription). Also, a first edition of Through the Looking Glass, printed in 1872, with the misprint "wade" on page 21.

Delightfully, these are something of a matching pair, being presented to Maggie Day, by her Aunt Fanny for "Xmas 1866", and "Christmas 1872", from the hand-written inscriptions on the 1/2 title pages of both.

An interesting note, in the 1912 Maggs Bros. catalogue, Issue 296, book 223 is a Through the Looking Glass, with "Margaret Day, to cheer up her sick folk, From Lewis Carroll" written on the flyleaf; one can't help but wonder if it's the same "Maggie Day".

The books spines have been restored by Karen McGuire, who also produced an attractive clamshell case, utilizing the medallions from an early Alice's cloth binding to decorate the case's boards; the cloth binding having been removed for the book to be finely bound in leather.

How Early is the Alice's Adventures? -

The Lewis Carroll Society, at their page, Publishing of Alice, write, "It had been thought that the 'second edition' had a print run of 4,000 copies. This was based on the fact that early editions of the 'third edition' stated 'fifth thousand', but the current general opinion among Carroll bibliographers is that the edition was only 2,000 copies and that the publisher's 'fifth thousand' would have included the recalled 2,000 copies."

With that in mind, it means this copy would have been printed just after the first run of 2,000 copies, available to the public in England.

The very first 2,000 copies were deemed of poor-quality, not released in the U.K. (with some gifted exceptions), and to recoup some expenses, they were sold to America and released in N.Y. with a cancel (updated) title page and an American imprint.

So, this "fifth thousand", was among the first 3,000 available to the UK, and is considered the 3rd print run (1st printing being those 2,000 that made their way to America, and the 2nd printing being the first 2,000 released to the U.K.).

How Early is the Through the Looking Glass? -

Through the Looking Glass is a true first edition, with a known error on page 21. Along the process of preparing Looking Glass for print, someone changed the word "wabe", to "wade", when, in fact, Carroll had wanted the word to be "wabe". This was quickly corrected and the error is used, in conjunction with the title page, to verify first editions.

Physical Attributes -

Clamshell measures approx. 22 x 15.5 x 5.5 cm. Each book measures approx. 18 x 13 x 1.5 cm.

The clamshell case has a spine of leather, with five raised bands; four compartments are richly tooled in gilt with a corner tool of leafing vines and a central medallion hinting at a heart shaped vine. The title and author are in gilt, on dark red morocco on the other two compartments. The boards are cloth, and have the medallions from an early Alice on them. Inside a black velvet lining cushions the books.

The books are in their original cloth, although both have been respined and lightly restored. The are, of course, illustrated.

Alice's Adventures... pages - xii, 192. Collation - (unsigned)4, b2, B-Z4, AA-BB4

... Looking Glass pages - xii, 224, [4]. Collation - (unsigned)6, B-P8, Q2 (ad leaf and colophon leaf)

Condition -

See pictures. Clamshell case is new, executed by fine binder Karen McGuire. Both spines were also repaired by Karen. There is a visible line, where the strengthened crash was inserted under the original cloth. The original cloth spines were overlaid; the spine cloth toned to match.

Alice's Adventures - Alice's boards still have areas where the 19th century glue has allowed wrinkles. I don't know if the endpapers were renewed, possibly, they are very nice but the tone of the original color. 1/2 title page with 1866 "Xmas" inscription, 1st two words struck-through with green (crayon?). Some toning and very light foxing throughout. Thumbing throughout, not light, but not excessive either; it was certainly read. Title page with "Fifth..." underlined, and some thumbing. An occasional rust spot throughout. "18" in pencil at bottom of B1. 2 cm tear bottom margin 11/12. Errant pencil mark bottom margin of 24. Some blue ink thumbing on 32, text still legible. Ink smudges blank area of 58. Spot on header of 66. Errant pencil marks bottom margin 73. Occasional dog-eared page at bottom corner, top corner may have once been bumped because there is a light crease indicative of a dog-ear on many of the leaves. The three leaves, pages 107-112, before rebinding were proud and experienced damage, their fore-edge margins are now strengthened and straightened, but you can tell the leaves have had wear. Towards the rear, a 1-2 cm moisture intrusion just at the top-edge, perhaps caused by the gilding (of the text block) process. Pencil mark at bottom of last printed page. All pages are present. I nitpicked, but complete, with no problems to the text, and relatively light wear for a work that was often owned by children.

Through the Looking Glass - Through the Looking Glasses original spine is fairly darkened, and some wear at corners of binding. 1/2 title page with 1872 gift inscription, "Maggie Day" stamp in blue, which did smudge a little, pencil note about 1st edition of Alice sold at Sotheby's; also very thumbed, as are the following few leaves. Toned throughout, with some thumbing. Spot in bottom margin of 16 and 17. Red spot in fore-edge margin of 28. Occasional dog-eared page. "73" erased from top edge of p73. "810" written in pencil in margin of p204. Ink smudge on colophon leaf, and pencil mark on blank verso.

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