12 x 18.2 cm boards in uniform black & gilt decorated dark green cloth, all edges gilt, bound using three staples, no half title page; vol.1 - frontispiece, cancel title page, , contents, , 288pp with dark blue/green endpapers, 2 further engraved plates (with page ref.s); vol.2 as vol.1 but without frontispiece, 208pp, khaki green endpapers and 4 engraved plates (without page ref.s). We believe both volumes to have been produced by Friedrich Andreas Perthes as part of their original production. Both have cancel title pages for Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington (who traded under this exact name at the Crown Buildings, 188 Fleet Street address shown on the title page, between 1874 -1887). Both volumes have the same ownership name to the verso of the front free endpaper. The joints have rubbed through in places (vol.1: upper joint 2cm at the top & 5.5cm bottom and lower joint 5.5cm; vol.2 2.5 cm at the top of the lower joint) as have the spine ends – please see images. The corners are lightly rubbed and the boards have general light age related soiling, more obviously to the back covers. The pages are reasonably clean but there are various marks throughout: finger marks, a few drip marks, dark spots and some marking visible at the gutter surrounding staples. Both inner hinges are intact and the bindings are firm and square. Seemingly, this set is the most scarce of all the scarce early English language editions. Other than this copy, we can find no record of a Sampson Low (SL) set having sold at auction and we have only been able to trace the existence of one other copy held in a US institution (this copy too has both volumes in the same colour). Records concerning the early publications of both volumes are somewhat scant. The exact date of publication of the first volume (Heidi's Early Experiences ) is unknown but appears accepted as being 1882, as it was listed as such in The Westminster Review in 1883, and was published by Spyri’s German publisher, Friedrich Andreas Perthes. The date of the second volume (Heidi's Further Experiences ) is less clear but generally asserted as being 1884, and appears in various states with publisher combinations of Perthes and W Swan Sonnenchein (WSS). All of the Perthes/WSS sets that we have found, though, comprise vol.1 in a dark cloth and vol.2 in a light cloth and we have not found any in matching cloth. Interestingly, both front covers have the title “Heidi’s Early Adventures”, volume two does not change to “Heidi's Further Experiences”, as the title page does. However, we do know that both volumes of this Sampson Low set were published in 1884, as they are listed on page 542 of the English Catalogue of Books vol. IV (covering Jan 1881 – Dec 1889). Both volumes are bound in uniform dark green cloth (the same as for vol.1 of the WSS sets), both with cancel title pages, and both with Heidi’s Early Adventures on the front cover. It would appear that this is the first complete British set that and was published in 1884. (interestingly, both R B Russell’s First Edition Prices Index and the Book Collector Rare Book Price Guide listed the first UK Edition of Heidi as being published by Sampson Low - at least in the editions we have seen). It seems clear that both WSS & SL copies of vol.2 were published by Perthes (the Christie’s description for lot 83 sold on 16 Nov. 2005 stated: “Perthes published the first volume of this English translation under his own imprint, and printed the sheets for the second volume which was published by Sonnenschein in London “). Perthes appears to have appointed SL as well as WSS to act as a seller, or possibly, WSS made a separate arrangement with SL. The fact that both SL volumes are in the same dark green cloth as the original Perthes and WSS volume 1 copies is intriguing. All other publisher copies that we have traced have the volume two in a lighter green cloth. There are a couple of possible scenarios that could explain this but we have been unable to find any evidence that that proves precedence by way of colour for the publication of volume 2. This colour difference might account for the relative scarcity of Sampson Low copies. In any event, this is a fiendishly rare edition of a set that is scarce in any early English edition.
Author SPYRI, Johanna
Publisher Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington