[JOHNSON, Samuel (1709-1784)]. [Rasselas] The Prince of Abissinia. London: R. and J. Dodsley and W. Johnston, 1759.
2 volumes, 8° (152 x 88mm). (Some light browning and spoting, vol. II without final blank M4.) Contemporary polished calf gilt, Greek key pattern border on sides, spines with repeated floral tooling, red and black morocco lettering-pieces, gilt edges (joints cracked, extremities rubbed), brown morocco solander case by H. Zucker, Philadelphia. Provenance: Hester Lynch Thrale, her gift to Gabriel Piozzi and Sir John S.P. Salusbury (two inscriptions in her hand on front free endpaper of vol. I : 'These Books written by Doctor Samuel Johnson were presented to Mr. Gabrielle Piozzi by Hester Lynch Thrale. Streatham Sunday 10: June 1781' and 'And Twenty Eight Years after that Time presented again to his Nephew John Piozzi Salusbury by Hester Lynch Piozzi. Brynbelle 1st August 1809') -- A. Edward Newton (bookplate), sold Parke-Bernet, NY, 15 May 1941, lot 427, for $130 (£32 10s.) -- purchased Scribners, NY, 21 November 1945, $153. Exhibited: Grolier Club (1950s exhibition label).
FIRST EDITION WITH HIGH ASSOCIATION INTEREST. Piozzi was preparing for a journey to Italy to see his parents when the widowed Mrs. Thrale presented him with this copy of Rasselas on 10 June, 1781. He left England in early July, stopping at Streatham on his journey to Margate, in order to say goodbye and give her an exchange gift, 'an Italian partenza full of tender expressions of devotion' (see James Clifford Hester Lynch Piozzi, 1952, pp. 204-05). The still pretty binding reflects the tender thoughts behind Mrs Thrale's gift. Courtney and Smith p. 74; Rothschild 1242.