Diamonds and Toads

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Illustrator: Kate Greenaway

GREENAWAY, Kate. Diamonds and Toads. [NY: McLoughlin Brothers ca. 1880]. 8vo, [20]pp. Color pictorial heavy stock paper wrappers. 6 color plates printed on one side of glossy coated sheets. Text printed on inside of covers and one side of four other sheets. Light edge wear with damp stain to fore-edge of sheets, slight soiling and scuffing to wrappers with faint crease on front cover, some ageing of text sheets, else a surprisingly bright copy of this fragile book.

Early US piracy of Kate Greenaway’s first book. Diamonds and Toads was one of Kate Greenaway’s first commissions as an illustrator, and she created 6 unsigned watercolor illustrations for the book to be published by Frederick Warne & Co. in the United Kingdom as part of their “Aunt Louisa’s London Toy Books’ Series.” Due to complications with the transfer of copyright from the United Kingdom to the United States during this time, McLoughlin Brothers were able to reproduce the book in the United States without retaining the rights and without paying any royalties. This copy would have been an early edition of the McLoughlin Brothers’ pirated book, and these pirated editions would have been the only way that American audiences would have been able to see Greenaway’s earliest work. Though not indicative of her now classic style, this early example shows the celebrated artist at the very beginning of her illustrious career.