16 November 2005
WILDE, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900). The Sphinx. London: Ballantyne Press for Elkin Matthews and John Lane, 1894.
4° (218 x 170mm). Title and 9 full-page and one half-page illustrations after Charles Ricketts printed in red, initials printed in green. Catchwords printed in green and running titles printed in red. (Very light marginal browning, some leaves lightly marked.) Original pictorial vellum gilt by Leighton, Son and Hodge after Ricketts (some very light spotting, 2 small marks on upper board, outer edges slightly bowed), 20th-century slipcase. Provenance: Thomas Bird Mosher (1852-1923, bookplate dated 1897; sale Parke-Bernet, 10-11 May 1948, lot 508).
FIRST EDITION, FROM THE LIBRARY OF THOMAS B. MOSHER, the American bibliophile and publisher of Wilde. Mosher published some eleven titles by Wilde between 1901 and 1911, including, in the latter year, The Sphinx -- evidently he did not suffer the scruples of Wilde, who apparently 'hesitated to to publish The Sphinx as it would destroy domesticity in England' (Mason). Although castigated as 'The Portland Pirate' for his enthusiasm for reprinting works unprotected by American copyright, Mosher's editions of Wilde are cited favourably by Mason in his Bibliography for the additional material which they include, which enabled Mason to clarify various previously obscure points. This is one of 200 copies for England from an edition of 275 copies. Mason 361.
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