EC Rare Books


ALICE’S ADVENTURES UNDER GROUND BEING A FACSIMILE OF THE ORIGINAL MS. BOOK AFTERWARDS DEVELOPED INTO “ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND”., 1886. Pp. viii [4 ll.] 95 [-96 with Christmas Greetings] [2 ll. including 2 pages of ads]. Original gilt-stamped red cloth with original first-issue black endpapers, hinges and spine ends worn, light edge wear, else very good. Introductory title and dedication leaves hand colored, chapter headings and a few other illustrations hand colored, oval albumen photographic portrait of Alice Liddell pasted at end along with small autograph note “happy summer days THE END” folded over last leaf. On verso of half-title is the following inscription, To Mr. Nichol Schattenstein with the compliments of Eldridge R. Johnson in memory of a very fine portrait that took several summer days Camden N.J. U.S.A. 1932. A most interesting association copy, specially prepared for the recipient. Eldridge Johnson, founder of Victor Talking Machine Company and avid collector of books and art, bought from A.S.W. Rosenbach the manuscript of Alice in 1928. Nikol Schattenstein, a Russian painter who moved to the US in 1920, painted portraits almost exclusively, and Rosenbach hosted numerous exhibitions of his work from at least the mid-1920s to mid-1930s, publishing catalogues of them regularly. Rosenbach himself commissioned his own portrait from Schattenstein, which now is displayed in the Rosenbach Museum & Library. I expect that Rosenbach introduced Johnson to Schattenstein, and Johnson and his wife had their portraits painted by him in 1932; they are illustrated in an exhibit catalogue published by Rosenbach in 1934. In the meantime, Johnson had decided to reprint this 1886 facsimile of the Alice manuscript, and had it collotyped by Max Jaffe in Vienna in 1936, issuing it in a finely bound limited edition. It also appears Johnson had bought the remaining unbound sheets of this 1886 facsimile and had them bound to give away to friends, perhaps having it reprinted in Vienna once he exhausted that supply. This copy, however, is from the original 1886 issue (with black coated endpapers) and has been extra-illustrated by Johnson for presentation to Schattenstein.

Johnson Eldridge

Johnson was born in Wilmington, Delaware on February 18, 1867 to Asa S. Johnson and Caroline Reeves Johnson. Upon his mother’s death in 1869 he was sent to live with his mother’s sister and her husband on their farm in the northern Kent County near Smyrna. Asa remarried, and at age ten young Johnson moved to Dover to live with his father and stepmother. Johnson attended the Delaware Academy with the hopes of attending college. However, he was a poor student and upon his graduation in 1882 at fifteen, the Academy’s director told him “you are too God damned dumb to go to college. Go and learn a trade.”

Thus, in 1883 Johnson was apprenticed to J. Lodge & Son, a machine repair shop in Philadelphia. In 1888, his apprenticeship was completed and Johnson became a machinist at the recently established Scull Machine Shop in Camden, New Jersey. John Warwick Scull had graduated from Lehigh University the previous year with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and his father Andrew financed the purchase of the building at 108 N. Front Street in Camden for his son to set up shop in.

Later that year, John W. Scull died suddenly. Johnson became foreman and manager, while the father continued on as owner. At the time of his death, John W. Scull had been working on the development of a bookbinding machine. Johnson completed the design of the machine but shortly thereafter decided to head west to seek his fortune. While he ultimately made it as far west as Washington state, the work Johnson found in the west was of the manual labor variety. Thus, by 1891 he had returned to Philadelphia.

After two years and $50,000 of investment, in 1900 Johnson was prepared to enter the gramophone record market. He incorporated as the Consolidated Talking Machine Company, Inc. and began selling records as well as a variety of gramophone models under this moniker. This brought Johnson directly into the Seaman-Berliner legal dispute. Seaman sued in early 1901 and requested an injunction prohibiting Johnson from selling gramophones. The manufacturing injunction was denied, but Johnson was temporarily enjoined from using variations on the word gramophone. On March 12, less than two weeks after the court decision, Johnson registered the Victor trademark.


3200 USD