1832 · Philadelphia
Illustrating this miniature chapbook are 15 wood engravings. The story follows the trials of Tom — there are many threats to his small life before the spider gets him — and ends with an illustration of Tom's coffin. The text is in prose, with a printed alphabet and numbers at the start and a verse "Epitaph on Tom Thumb" at the end. The first and last leaves are mounted to the inside of the wrappers, as usual.
This little book exemplifies an ad hoc make-up not uncommon in such productions: Completely unrelated to the story, it offers a fish on the front wrapper, a turkey opposite the title-page, a crow on the back wrapper, and a nursery rhyme about Arthur O'Bower and the king of Scots (with portrait cut of the king) inside the back wrapper — though it may be that that last is dimly connected with other contents as in this version of Tom's tale he is "born in the reign of King Arthur" and Arthur O'Bower is sometimes identified with that ancient figure!
The AAS tells us that it was issued as one of a set of four toy books that Johnson published in 1832.
Provenance: From the children's book collection of Albert A. Howard, sans indicia.
Rosenbach, Children's, 778. Orange paper wrappers; rear one detached and reattached using archival tissue that at points overlays type. First leaf creased at bottom edge, some light foxing, otherwise internally very good; two leaves are still partially uncut. (Inventory #: 38781)