Description

    An Exceptional Copy of "The Most Original and Beautiful Children's Book of the 1920s"

    William M. Timlin. The Ship That Sailed to Mars. A Fantasy. Told and Pictured by William M. Timlin. London: George G. Harrap & Company Limited, [n.d., 1923].
    First edition of Timlin's masterpiece, "the most original and beautiful children's book of the 1920s" (Dalby). Large quarto (11.875 x 9.125 inches). Forty-eight pages of calligraphic text lithographed in blue, black, and gray and forty-eight color plates mounted on gray matte paper.

    Publisher's quarter vellum over gray boards with front cover decoratively lettered in dark gray and spine pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt. Corners lightly rubbed, minimal rubbing to board edges and spine extremities, very slight browning to endpapers from pastedown glue. Slight abrasion to title mount at gutter where adhered to free endpaper, short (one-inch) tear to lower edge of three mounts, not affecting text or plate, a few additional tiny marginal tears. An exceptional copy, with the vellum spine remarkably clean and the gilt still bright. In the scarce original gray paper dust jacket with front panel pictorially stamped and lettered in gray and spine pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt. The jacket is chipped at spine ends and lower corners, and shows some general edgewear, with a slight crease to the rear panel, and has been reinforced on the verso at folds and edges with archival tape.

    William M. Timlin (1892-1943) was born in Northumberland and "educated in England but emigrated to South Africa before 1915 and studied art there. He did illustrations in pen and ink and watercolour, and exhibited regularly in South Africa, where he practised as an architect. He wrote stories, composed music, illustrated periodicals, produced watercolour fantasies, painted in oil, and produced etchings...It has been asserted that the illustrations to this book put him in the top ten of fantasy illustrators with Rackham, Dulac, Goble and Nielsen. He died in Kimberley, South Africa [before his later series of paintings, intended as plates for a book to be entitled The Building of a Fairy City, was published]" (Horne, The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators, p. 413).

    "Excelling the production values previously lavished on Willy Pogany and Harry Clarke, George Harrap published this huge and magnificent volume in November 1923, finely bound in quarter vellum richly decorated in gilt. 'Told and Pictured by William M. Timlin', the book contained 48 superb colour plates by the artist, alternated throughout with 48 leaves adorned with his fine calligraphic and poetic text...Timlin's fantasy is a magical combination of science fiction and fairyland. His watercolours equal the best work of Arthur Rackham and W. Heath Robinson...A total of only 2,000 copies of the book were produced in Britain, of which 250 were distributed in America by Stokes of New York (in 1924)" (Dalby, The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, p. 102).

    The story follows the adventures of an Old Man who "had taken his leave of men, and mens ways," and with the help of Fairies, builds a Ship to sail to Mars. The book is divided into three parts: Part One describes the planning, building, launching, and departure of the Ship; Part Two describes its journey to Mars, including its encounters with the Monsters, the Seven Sisters, the Meteor, the Eden Serpent, the Air sprite, the Star of the Classic Myths, and the Pirate Planet; Part Three describes the arrival and landing at the City of Mars and follows the Old Man as he explores the wonders of the City, including the Temple, the Zoo, the Palace Garden, Thunder City, and the Finished Palace of the Princess. From the Robert and Diane Yaspan Collection.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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