Item #007320 The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press. Winston S. Churchill.
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press
The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press

The Second World War, a full set of six U.S. first editions, one of seven sets finely bound and slipcased for presentation by the printer, Kingsport Press

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948. First edition, first printing. 3/4 leather. This magnificent set is the printer’s special presentation binding of the U.S. first edition, first printing of The Second World War, Winston Churchill's history of the epic 20th century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. This is the only such set we have encountered, apparently unknown to both the collecting community and Churchill’s bibliographers.

The bindings are compelling in both craftsmanship and appearance, featuring three-quarter brown Morocco goatskin with marbled paper-cover boards. The spines feature gilt-ruled compartments separated by raised and gilt-decorated spine bands. The covers feature gilt-ruled transitions. The contents are bound with gilt top edges, red and gold silk head and tail bands, and endpapers matching the marbled paper of the boards. The set is housed in a single, stout, brown cloth-covered slipcase with individual compartments for each volume, each compartment fitted with a brown ribbon pull to facilitate extraction of the volume within.

Condition approaches near fine. The bindings are square, tight, clean, and unfaded, showing only superficial wear to the joints, likely resulting from their snug fit within the slipcase. The first printing contents are bright, clean, and crisp with no spotting or age toning. The original slipcase shows scuffing, particularly to the bottom surface, and has lost two of the original six ribbon pulls, but is otherwise intact, and respectably clean.

This U.S. first edition preceded its British counterpart and is hence the true first edition, published in six volumes between October 1948 and November 1953. Kingsport Press commissioned this special presentation binding. A printed plate dated “April 9, 1954” reads: “Mr. C. Wilhelm | Vice President of Kingsport Press | has presented this deluxe-bound set of | Winston Churchill’s Memoirs to | MR. H. H. HORTON | Distribution of the remaining sets | was as follows: | 2 to Sir Winston S. Churchill | 1 to Pres. of Houghton Mifflin, Publishers | 1 to Pres. of Book-of-the-Month Club | 1 to Rutgers University Press Library | 1 retained by Mr. Wilhelm for his own | library.”

The Kingsport Press presentation plate, now laid in, was originally affixed to the Vol. I front free endpaper recto, evidenced by matching glue residue on the plate verso and ffep. The only other previous ownership artefact in the set is a gift inscription inked on the recto of the blank preceding the Vol. I title page: “With respect and affection | for my good friend | Hal Horton! | Sincerely | “Curley” Wilhelm | 4-9-54”. Horton is unknown to us, but we may presume he was well-regarded by senior staff at Kingsport Press; we have also encountered a specially bound presentation set of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (also printed by Kingsport Press and specially bound by Kingsport) presented to Mr. Horton, identified therein as “Harold H. Horton”.

Tennessee-based Kingsport press was one of four printers of the first edition. Churchill’s bibliographer, Ron Cohen, explains “Production was divided among four printers: the Riverside Press, the Haddon Craftsmen, the Kingsport Press and H. Wolff… all plates were struck from the typesetting ordered by Houghton Mifflin and the title-page versos generally indicate which printers produced each volume”. (Vol. I, A240.1(I).a, p.718) In the case of this set, the title page versos of five of the volumes indicate that they were printed by Kingsport Press, the first Volume – somewhat ironically the one with the Kingsport Press presentation plate and inscription – indicating that it was printed by “The Haddon Craftsmen”.

The rights to publish Churchill’s war memoirs has been called “perhaps the greatest coup of Twentieth Century publishing”. For Kingsport Press, the commission to print this iconic work brought not just commercial value, but reputational prestige – which may help explain why the printer undertook this special binding.

Reference: Cohen A240.4(I-VI).a, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264. Item #007320

Price: $6,500.00

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