Printed for & sold by the Widow Spicer of Folkstone for the Benefit of her Orphans. [n.d.] 55.9 x 22.9 cm., single sheet folded once, with some traces of mounting tape on the vertical margin, some creases but very good. The very fine William Muir facsimile, often mistaken in the past as the original. The poem was composed by William Hayley. Originally etched in relief and white line by Blake on four plates, printed in black ink, uncolored; copies are also known hand colored or printed in brown ink. This is one of Blake’s rarest works; it is also amongst the rarest of Muir’s facsimiles; some were issued in The Hobby Horse and some separately - this is one of the separate issues and the only copy I have ever seen. They can be distinguished from the Hobby Horse examples since the latter were cut into two pieces to fit in the magazine, always with slight loss of text at the cut, or folded twice. Bentley, Blake Books, 470B or D. Bindman, Complete Graphic Works of Blake, 384. See also Keynes, Blake Studies, 2nd ed. (who reports that the Muir facsimile was exhibited for some years as the original at the Pierpont Morgan Library).
Essick notes: Muir “Little Tom” copies from my collection handlist. Gives the full watermark of the example bound in the Hobby Horse and Muir’s statement (see first entry) that his facsimile is based on an original owned by H. H. Gilchrist.
Little Tom the Sailor. Datable to 1886. Laid paper, leaf 56.8 x 23.1 cm., with watermark "POUNCY." On the printed front wrapper of his 1887 Europe facsimile, Muir notes that his facsimile of Little Tom is "from Mr. Gilchrist's copy" (now untraced). The facsimile is attributed to Emery Walker Ltd. rather than Muir in Keynes, Blake Studies, 2nd ed., page 109; this paper listed by Keynes as no. iii on page 110. Matted. Acquired July 1971 from Charles Sessler Books ($200). BB#249(i), 470C or D.
Idem. Laid paper, leaf 61.8 x 21.3 cm., with watermark “JOHN DICKINSON & Co” (this paper listed in Keynes, Blake Studies, 2nd ed., page 110, no. i). Folded twice and bound in The Century Guild Hobby Horse, vol. 1 no. 4 (Oct. 1886), which see under Biography and Criticism, Periodicals through 1900. BB#249(i), 470B, 1683.
Idem. With the headpiece and tailpiece hand color in imitation of the original in the British Museum, very probably hand colored by Blake or his wife Catherine. Inscribed in pen and brown ink “No 3 Wm Muir” upper left, leaf of wove paper without watermark 60.3 x 23.0 cm. Quaritch records the delivery from Muir of a “coloured” copy of Little Tom on 11 May 1925 (no copy number recorded). Quaritch’s catalogue 401 of May 1926 offers as item 243 a Muir facsimile of Little Tom with “two illustrations coloured by hand from the copy in the British Museum” for £1.1s. This catalogue dates the work to “1925,” apparently the date of coloring, possibly of printing, but not of original execution as a lithograph. The same entry appears in Quaritch’s Dec. 1926 catalogue 405, item 256, 1926 catalogue 427, item 248, and 1930 catalogue 434, item 2065. Acquired Nov. 2012 on eBay ($1316.99). BB#249(i), 470C or D, hand colored copies not listed. Item #108281