Wednesday, October 12, 2022

584. Presentation Copies of Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan

Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair (Saatchi Gallery, 15-18 September 2022) featured a presentation copy of Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan (1893). The book was offered for £30,900.00 by Whitmore Rare Books Inc of Pasadena (CA).

Oscar Wilde, dedication to R.V. Shone, November 1893
in Lady Windermere's Fan (1893)

Wilde inscribed this copy to R.V. Shone, one of the managers of the St. James's Theater that staged the play in 1892. The dealer's website mentioned: 'First editions signed by Wilde are scarce on the market, with Lady Windermere being particularly rare as only 500 copies of the first edition were printed [...]. Auction records show that the six known association copies of this play were all signed trade editions, as the run of 50 large paper copies came out after.'

Indeed, it seems Wilde only used copies of the regular trade edition as dedication copies.

In its description, Whitmore Rare Books, refers to a second dedication copy ('also presented to someone involved in the production') auctioned by Leslie Hindman in 2018 - I have no record of this sale. It could be the dedication copy for George Alexander (manager) or Marion Terry (actress).

How many dedication copies can we trace? Whitmore keeps it at six, but dedication copies are much less rare. I count 15 of them - and have undoubtedly missed a few more!

Douglas Ainslie
George Alexander
Arthur Clifton
W.L. Courtney
Alfred Douglas 
Edmund Gosse
Francis Jeune 
Otho Holland Lloyd
Elisabeth Marbury
Robert Ross
Marcel Schwob
R.V. Stone
Marion Terry
Byron Webber
Jane Wilde (Wilde's mother)

Any more? Please mail me if you know of other dedication copies.