BUSCH, Wilhelm.

Max und Moritz:

eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen.

Munich: Braun und Schneider, [1865] Stock Code: 138250

The prototype of the comic strip

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Rare first edition, first impression, of the book widely regarded as the prototype of the children's comic. The first printing was 4,000 copies, but the nature of the book and the juvenile readership led to a very high attrition rate. This is a remarkably well-preserved copy.

After Struwwelpeter, Max und Moritz is the best known German children's book. Busch's style, his lively line drawings captioned with rhyming couplets, is generally recognized as the precursor of modern comic strips, particularly influential on German émigrés to America like Rudolph Dirks, whose Katzenjammer Kids is a close imitation of Max und Moritz. Busch pioneered several elements which have become staples of the medium, such as onomatopoeia and expressive movement lines.

This has the key error "geschroben" for "geschroten" on leaf 52 and Vanselow's other points: leaf 17 with a full stop after the last word; line 1, leaf 31, slightly indented; leaf 51 with a point and dash after "Bösewichter"; and 7 dashes on the left of the text on leaf 53. The illustrations are first state, strong woodcut impressions on white paper with light colouring as per the artist's instructions. Only the first four printings have illustrations printed from the original woodblocks by Dr. C. Wolf & Sohn; later printings are illustrated by electrotypes.

Outside Germany the book is notably rare: Library Hub does not locate a single copy in North America or elsewhere, while Library Hub locates only one copy in the United Kingdom and Ireland, that at the Taylor Institution Library, Oxford.

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Octavo (205 x 132 mm), ff. [2], 53; printed on rectos only. Contemporary dark brown sheep-backed brown patterned-paper covered boards, manuscript titles in dark brown ink to yellow spine label, blue speckled edges. Housed in a black quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


With 98 lightly hand-coloured woodcut illustrations in the text by the author (the illustration on leaf 45 signed in the block, "WBusch 65"), xylographic title.


Neat contemporary ink ownership inscription of Bruno Lange to front pastedown. Extremities worn, rubbed in place, but the binding firm, small reinforcement to lower inner corner of title verso and "Vorwort" recto, last leaf seemingly reattached, superficial abrasion to leaf 17 with slight loss of image, occasional small edge-splits to lower margins, lightly finger-soiled, occasional spotting, else a remarkably well-preserved and wide-margined copy.


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