Foyers: Society For The Propagation Of Religious Truth, 1905, 1906, 1907. First Editions. Softcovers. 3 volumes. Octavos (7 7/8 x 5 5/8 inches). Black "Camel hair" wrappers with white lettering. Text printed on "India paper." Vol. I: x, 270pp (includes errata facing p. 264); Vol. II: viii, (2), 282pp, Vol. III: viii, 248pp. The set is housed in a fine modern custom-made portfolio: black buckram book-cloth with hand marbled paper boards, gilt-stamped leather spine label, lined with archival paper. This, the "Essay Competition" edition (the words "Essay Competition Copy" are printed on the page facing the title page), arguably represents the true first issue of "The Collected Works," being simply and cheaply bound so that it could be distributed soon after printing to anyone planning on entering the competition for the best essay on his own works, which Crowley was then running. Although the word "Collected" only appears on the upper wrapper, and not on the title page, the books are commonly referred to as "The Collected Works" after the titling on the wrappers. "The Collected Works" basically gathered together most of Crowley's work that had been published to date. This was largely poetry and plays, although it did include "Berashith", a magical essay first published in 1903, and a number of previously unpublished or especially revised pieces, including a lengthy "epilogue and dedication" entitled "Eleusis." For obvious reasons it omitted altogether Crowley's "obscene" works: "White Stains," "Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden" etc., although it did include "The Sword of Song", which has an Appendix (Ambrosi Magi Hortus Rosarum) the initial letters of some of the hanging notes of which spelled out indecencies, some of which are still considered unprintable. For this reason "The Collected Works" was cited in the "Looking Glass" libel trial of 1911, as indicative of Crowley's immorality. According to Duncombe-Jewell the entire print consisted of 1001 copies. Given the number of different bindings, it seems unlikely that more than a quarter of them would have been thus, in the camel hair binding.
The "camel hair wrappers" are notoriously fragile, and although the heads and tails of the spines of these three volumes are chipped, and the corners of the wrappers are chipped and "rounded" these are in somewhat better condition than average. Otherwise Vol. I: has a little rubbing to the white letters on the front wrapper; Vol. II and there is a chip missing from the fore-edge of the front wrapper; Vol. III: there is a match-head sized hole in the front wrapper and the paper covering of the upper spine is partially chipped away. Still, they are basically sound and complete, and better than VG which is quite good good considering their flimsy bindings. The set is now protected by a custom made archival portfolio. Item #63098