Ouida’s Bimbi: Stories for Children (1882)

Hello fellow book history enthusiasts! This week we return to the blog format.

Tonight, we’re taking a look at an edition of Ouida’s Bimbi: Stories for Children published by J.P. Lippincott & Co. of Philadelphia in 1882.

The publisher’s binding is green cloth with black stamping and gilt on the spine:

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Close-up of the stamping pattern.

The spine is so elaborate, especially considering the relative tameness of the other elements.

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Blind stamping on the back in the same pattern used on the front cover:img_5609

If you watched my previous post, you’ll remember that I mentioned coated endpapers–we have them here as well, in a light tan. The rest of the paper is wove (at this date, most paper will be), with some foxing. It feels like a middling wood content. It isn’t quite brittle, but it’s got much less give than paper with higher linen content.

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Coated endpapers.

We’ve also got a lovely birthday inscription dating from 1888 and a half-title page:

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Lovely inscription.

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Half-title.

The following is something I haven’t seen before (in my admittedly short book history career):

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That’s right, the title page spread includes advertising for other volumes by the author. This feels very modern, especially if you’re a reader of contemporary genre fiction in which a list of authors’ works generally precedes the title.

The paragraph below the list observes, “These Novels are universally acknowledged to be the most powerful and fascinating works of fiction which the present century, so prolific in light reading, has produced.” Apparently, Ouida’s where it’s at, and those of us who persist in teaching Eliot and Braddon and Dickens and Collins and Hardy are sorely mistaken…

Anyway, below you’ll see snapshots of the dedication, table of contents, and the first page of two different short stories this volume contains. Given the darkness of the ink and the lack of patterns of wear, I feel pretty confident in saying this is hand set.

One of the stories participates in the Victorian revival of it-narratives. It’s titled “Lampblack,” and I’m going to attempt to record myself reading it aloud. I’ll post within the next week if I’m successful.

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