First edition, first printing. Signed Limited Edition. Small 4to. Stunning contemporary orange morocco by Zaehnsdorf, titles and ivy leaf tooling in gilt to the spine, upper board with titles in gilt, upper and lower boards decorated with acorns and oak, ivy, sycamore and willow leaves in gilt. The inner dentelles are decorated with ivy leaves in gilt; the binder's name stamp in gilt at the front and exhibition stamp in gilt at the rear. Top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Retaining the original upper wrapper. Illustrated title page in red with black vignette, printed title page in red and black. Illustrated with a frontispiece and 2 further plates by Walter Crane, each in 2 states, and 12 head and tailpieces by Jacomb Hood. A beautiful near fine copy. Imperceptible repair to the upper joint, minor toning to the leather. The contents with light offsetting to the endpapers and a faint mark to the margin of one page are otherwise clean and bright throughout. Housed in a recent full black morocco, felt lined solander case, titles in gilt to the spine, and grey cloth slipcase.
Limited to 75 large paper copies of which this is hand numbered 36 and signed by Oscar Wilde and the publisher David Nutt on the limitation page. A superb example of the rare first edition (preceding the trade edition of 1000 copies, issued later the same year), in an exceptional contemporary exhibition quality autumnal foliate binding. The Happy Prince is Oscar Wilde's first and best known collection of children's stories, including "The Selfish Giant", "The Nightingale and the Rose", "The Devoted Friend", and "The Remarkable Rocket". Wilde's "Reputation as an author dated from the publication of The Happy Prince and Other Tales in London in May 1888. The Athenaeum compared him to Hans Christian Andersen, and Pater wrote to say that 'The Selfish Giant' was 'perfect in its kind,' and the whole book written in 'pure English' - a wonderful compliment" (Ellmann, Richard: Oscar Wilde p. 282). [Mason 314]. Provenance: Charles Mills, Lord Hillingdon (1830 - 1898); Sotheby's sale of 1932, lot 454; purchased by book dealer and co-founder of the Society for Theatre Research Ifan Kyrle Fletcher (with his neat pencil note recording the sale on the front pastedown); Helen Hambro, née Boyson (1936 - 2004).
Stock code: 18832
London: David Nutt.