London: Printed by The Edinburgh Press; Published by Sands & Co., 1898. First Edition. Oblong folio. 300 x 230 mm. 30 ff. Paper boards, original pictorial cover, yellowed, edges bumped with small tears in the paper covering, boards and spine scuffed. With 15 full-page illustrations in color opposite printed text, printed on one side only. Fore-edge margins reinforced with paper on several leaves, new endleaves, paper somewhat yellowed. Good. Item #2963
PRESENTATION COPY, signed by the author on the first leaf, "Yours very affectionately / Leila Trapmann / November 1898." A weird and wonderful volume of nonsense rhymes, with curious color illustrations of a decidedly Surrealist quality. This absurd tale concerns a roller-skating spoofah and a half-bicycle / half-elephant antidote. The "meaning" of the story is naturally unclear, but behind the nonsense there may be a veiled social and political commentary in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Utopia Limited" or Arthur Branscombe's "Morocco Bound," both of which were first performed in 1893; one of the main characters of "Morocco Bound" is named Spoofah Bey, an Irish con-man and adventurer who enlists a troop of British characters to travel with him to Morocco where he hopes to win the right to sell theatre concessions. The Spoofah in Trapmann's story is Scottish, and one wonders if she was aware of Branscombe's theatrical production.
This appears to be the only known illustrated book by Leila (nee Gardner Trapmann) von Meister (1871-1958), who was born in Tunbury on Thames and attended private school in Frankfurt. In 1900 she married senior politician and diplomat Karl Wilhelm von Meister, with whom enjoyed the friendship of the imperial family (indeed, Kaiser Wilhelm II was the godfather of her son). Following WWI she was awarded the Iron Cross by the Kaiser for her work in the Red Cross. Her husband died in 1935 and she emigrated to New York. Her memoirs were published in London in 1963 as "Gathered Yesterdays" (ed. David Boyle).
"The Spoofah & The Antidote" was published in London and New York in 1898 (priority indeterminate), of which a combined total of eight copies worldwide are located in OCLC. Ours appears to be the only copy of any edition on the market, signed or unsigned.