Monday, November 28, 2011

Scarce Alice in Wonderland Posters c. 1900 Hit the Market

by Stephen J. Gertz

Alice and the White Rabbit.

In 1900 or thereabouts (the Bodleian dates them to 1921), Macmillan published six posters based upon Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, each illustrated by J. Macfarlane. It was, apparently, the only instance of Macmillan licensing illustrations for Alice in Wonderland by an artist other than John Tenniel, its original illustrator.

The Mad Tea Party.

These posters are extremely rare, with OCLC recording only one set of all six (at Buffalo & Erie Public Library) though COPAC records another complete set at Oxford.

Trial of the Knave of Hearts.

There has never been a complete set recorded at  auction; just two varnished prints offered in 1997.  Christie's-South Kensington, however, is offering a complete set today, November 28, 2011, at their Fine Books and Manuscripts sale. Most sets were likely varnished for hanging in the schoolroom or nursery; to find sets fine condition is difficult. Peter Harrington is currently offering a complete set, as well. 

The Cheshire Cat.

It's delightful serendipity that two sets have come into the marketplace at the same time. Get 'em while you can; Kismet has a plane to catch and is tapping its foot and checking its watch.

The Mock Turtle's Story.

In 2007, as part of the celebrations for the first Alice's Day, the Bodleian Library staged an exhibition including the earliest editions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and amongst "Other highlights of the display... [were] two posters from a set of six based on Tenniel's designs by J. MacFarlane."

The Dodo Presenting the Thimble to Alice.

Little is known about the artist, J. Macfarlane. It appears that he was an Australian painter and illustrator who contributed cartoons to the Barrier Daily Truth during the 1890s. He illustrated At the Races: the Melbourne Cup 1893 and Dwithdale's The Book of the Bush (1898), amongst others.


([DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge] CARROLL, Lewis.) MACFARLANE, J. (illus.) Macmillan's Coloured Wall Illustrations. Alice in Wonderland. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., [c.1900, per OCLC].

Six color-lithographed linen-backed wall-posters, 32 1/3 x 23 2/3 inches (820 × 600 mm) each.

Images courtesy of Peter Harrington Rare Books, with our thanks.


  1. Actually, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library's Rare Book Room has only five of the six prints. Sadly, we are missing number 1. See our catalog entry at:

  2. I have all six.


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