London: Wieland, ND (1912 & 1913). First Editions - Rare US Release. Hardcovers. 2 Volumes. Both small square octavos (Approx. 5 3/8 inches x 5 3/8 inches). Vol. I: x + 94pp (+2pp. adverts), original printed cloth over flexible card boards, plain black cloth backstrip (no spine-label issued on this volume); 2 photographic illustrations. Vol II: viii + 186pp, original printed paper over flexible card boards, black cloth spines with paper title-label on spine, 10 full page plates & illustrations, errata slip tipped in facing title page. Volume I has the publisher's address given as "33 Avenue Studios, South Kensington" which indicates that it is the second issue of the First Edition. The print-run of this issue is not known with certainty, but is said to have been either 1500 or 2000 copies. There was only one issue of Volume II (obviously the first!) of which only 500 copies were printed.
RARE U.S. ISSUE WITH DISTRIBUTOR'S LABELS OF FRATER ACHAD TIPPED IN. An uncommon US release with a cancel label reading "Since the writing of this book, Frater Perdurabo has attained to a Grade which makes it impossible for any but the highest Initiates to approach HIM personally. The private instruction ... will now be given by his chosen representative ... Frater Achad, who may be addressed care of The Collegium Ad Spiritum Sanctum .. Chicago, Ill. ...." tipped over the original publisher's address at the end of the introductory Note at the start of each volume (see further below).
The first two volumes - all issued thus - complete in themselves, on mysticism and magick respectively, of the projected four volumes of Crowley's magnum opus, "Book 4". The third volume (on "The Book of the Law") did not appear as such during Crowley's lifetime, whilst the fourth came out in different format under the title "Magick in Theory and Practice" in 1930. These two volumes are in their original distinctive "flashing bindings" and are an unusual example of the book as talismanic object, with the design by Crowley also reflecting the (itself symbolic) number 4: a theme carried through from the square shape; 4 equal sides; to the original prices, 4 groats and 4 tanners respectively, and the intended 4 volumes of the series.
As evidenced by the cancel address labels mentioned above, these particular volumes were amongst the Crowley works distributed by Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad: 1886-1950), an early recruit to Crowley's magical order the A.'. A.'., who under the tutelage of first J. F. C. Fuller and then of Crowley himself rose swiftly through the Grades, claiming the exalted Grade of Magister Templi in the summer of 1916. Crowley was initially greatly surprised by the claim, however, he soon realised that Jones's announcement had come almost exactly nine months after Crowley and his then sex-magick partner Hilarion had engaged in rituals aimed at producing a child. Crowley decided that the operations were not, as he initially thought, a failure, but rather that Jones was in fact the "magical child," resulting from that union, having been "born" anew as a "Babe of the Abyss" when he took the obligation of the Magister Templi. He came to refer to Jones as his "beloved son," and, for a time also accepted him as the "child" whose arrival was also prophesied in "The Book of the Law." Jones also rose rapidly through the ranks of the O.T.O. and served for a time as Grand Treasurer General, and later as Grand Master for North America. In the early 1920s he was very active as an author and running his own occult organisation in Chicago. However, his views increasingly diverged from those of Crowley, and Crowley first asked him to resign as Grand Master for North America, and eventually, in 1936, expelled him from the O.T.O. These volumes clearly date from the early 1920s, when Jones acted as Crowley's right-hand man in the USA and his Chicago operation was the epicentre of North American Thelemic activity and book distribution.
From the collection of Clive Harper with his discreet book-label neatly tipped in at the rear. Harper is well- known as the bibliographer of Austin Osman Spare, for updating the Aleister Crowley bibliography in the 2011 Teitan Press collection of Gerald Yorke's writings, and as someone who has lent his expertise to numerous other publications.
The two volumes are housed together in a Fine custom-made protective portfolio, covered in black buckram book-cloth, lined with archival paper, and with printed paper spine label and panels reflecting the original design.
Condition: Vol. I: covers quite darkened, spine chipped at head and tail and with some splits. Previous owner's details (Detroit 1944) and a small Detroit bookshop stamp on first blank, one or two ages spots and typical modest wear, an about VG+ copy. Vol. II: Paper covered boards chafed at edges and with some moderate creasing, corners of boards rounded, paper spine label darkened and a little chipped at head and tail, but 95% intact, page edges darkened and foxed. Obviously well read and with moderate foxing throughout. Otherwise an internally clean better-than-VG copy. An obviously used but still solid set of a most unusual issue - we have never had a set of the Achad issue in stock before (neither volume issued with dust jacket). Item #66017