BURTON, Richard Francis. A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, now entituled The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. [and:] Supplemental Nights. Benares: printed by the Kamashastra Society for private subscribers only, 1885-1888.
16 volumes, 8° (246 x 157mm). 100 engraved plates by S.L. Wood and 71 engraved plates by Albert Letchford, with captioned tissues. Blue full levant morocco gilt, by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, spines with squared raised bands, gilt in compartments, upper and lower covers triple-ruled in gilt with central gilt Arabic lozenge, inner gilt dentelles, saffron silk liners and endpapers, all edges gilt, original cloth covers bound-in at end, title-pages in red and black (some very slight fading to spines only).
FIRST EDITION IN A FINE BINDING. Although issued under the banner of the Kama Shastra Society, the 'Arabian Nights' is not normally counted as one of the Society's five publications. It was just another of Burton's deceptions to conceal the true publisher and printer. To the Decency Act of 1885 he replied 'I don't care a button about being prosecuted.' Although its sexual explicitness outraged some critics, overall the work brought Burton a 'deluge of acclaim' and financial success. Isabel had sent out over 30,000 prospectuses and, to their amazement, they received 2,000 orders for the first 10 volumes at one guinea per volume. The edition was, however, kept at 1,000 sets. As issued in cloth bindings, the 'Arabian Nights' was not illustrated. Letchford's illustrations were not completed until 1897 and Wood's in 1900. The complete sets of both painters' images especially created for this work were included here by the binders, probably soon after the publication of Wood's illustrations. This bound set conforms with Penzer's first edition, with the name and date of the copyrighter on title-page versos. Penzer p. 114-116. Casada 74. Spink 73. (16)