Collodi, Carlo (1826-1890).
Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino. Illustrata da E. Mazzanti. Firenze, Felice Paggi, 1883. Firenze,
8° (182x120 mm). 236 pages, plus IV pages of advertisements. A portrait of Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti serves as the frontispiece. Sixty-one woodcuts in the text, likewise by Mazzanti. Original publisher's green cloth. On the upper cover, title stamped in gilt between two gilt stripes with the name of the author and printer embossed in green; the lower cover decorated with two floral-patterned rolls in black; spine with title lettered in gold. Covers slightly discoloured, lower cover somewhat bumped. In a fine sand morocco folding case, probably by Gozzi (Modena), the figure of Pinocchio outlined in gold at the centre of the upper board, with inlays in green, white, and red morocco. A good copy, marginal browning. Two short tears to the blank margins of pages 18 and 225, repaired, without any loss.
The exceedingly rare first edition in book form – presented in its very desirable original luxury cloth binding – of the masterpiece by the Italian writer and journalist Carlo Lorenzini (better known as Collodi), the enduring children's classic about a marionette whose nose would grow each time he told a lie.
The novel Pinocchio was first serialised in the children's magazine from Rome, Giornale per i bambini, under the direction of Ferdinando Martini: the first instalment appeared on 7 July 1881, and the last one on 25 January 1883. Pinocchio was published as a book in the same year, 1883, probably in a very small print run, and at least twelve reprints appeared during the first year of publication. Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1893) was responsible for the everlasting black-and-white illustrations. The success was enormous, with countless editions and translations into more than 260 languages. Collodi's masterpiece continues to be cherished to this day and has been the subject of numerous adaptations, including popular versions by Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, who used the story for the film A.I. (2001).
The work was first translated into English in 1892 by M. A. Murray, whose version – The Story of a Puppet or The Adventures of Pinocchio – was published in the same year in London as well as in New York, supplemented with thirty seven of Mazzanti's illustrations. In 1904 the first American illustrated edition was published, thanks to the work of Walter S. Cramp and Charles Copeland (Pinocchio: the Adventures of a Marionette, Boston, Ginn & Co.). “Almost nothing else in children's literature equals Pinocchio for wildness of invention” (Carpenter-Prichard, Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, p. 462).
Parenti, Rarità bibliografiche dell'Ottocento, pp. 148-153 (“E' questo uno dei pezzi più rari, se non il più raro senz'altro, dell'Ottocento italiano”); H. Carpenter - M. Prichard (eds.), Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford 1984, pp. 461-462; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 276.