MILNE, A.A. (author). H. Willebeek le MAIR (illustrator). A Gallery of Children. London; Stanley Paul & Co., Ltd. .
Large 4to. Original white buckram with gilt vignette to upper cover, lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut; pp. [iv], 5-105; with an illustrated title-page and 12 charming coloured plates; a fine copy preserved in exceptional condition, both externally and internally, bar light spotting to the endpapers.
First edition. Published in an ordinary trade edition and this superior limited edition, this copy is number 4 of 500 (of which only 485 were for sale), signed by A.A. Milne, and issued on fine hand-made paper. Milne of course is the author of Winnie-The-Pooh (1926) and The House At Pooh Corner (1928).
This is an extraordinary book in many ways and is distinguished by being A.A. Milne's first work of prose for children, following his poetry collection, When We Were Very Young, which was published to critical and popular acclaim the previous year. The images, in startling Art Deco style, by the Dutch illustrator Henriette Willebeek Le Mair (who became known as 'Saida' when she embraced Sufism), were originally created as advertisements for Colgate toothpaste and were extraordinarily popular. So much so that Milne was commissioned to pen twelve individual fantasy stories to accompany them, each with children as the central subject.