Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rudyard Kipling’s Time in Vermont

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Rudyard Kipling

Last week we had a rare opportunity to travel back in time to meet one of the world’s most beloved English storytellers of all time, Joseph Rudyard Kipling. His fiction works are some of the world’s favorites, especially his collection of short stories titled The Jungle Book. What many don’t know, however, is that Kipling spent a great deal of time in Vermont and built a house there, where he wrote many of his most famous works, including The Jungle Book and Captains Courageous.

Kipling purchased 12 acres of land in Dummerston, Vermont in 1892, to build a house with his American wife. The large house was built to resemble a ship and Kipling gave it the name “Naulakha.” There are several theories as to what Kipling was referencing with this name. It translates to “Jewel Beyond Price” in Hindi and is also the name of the Naulakha Paviolion, a monument in Pakistan. With either meaning of the name, it can be argued that Kipling saw his new house in Vermont as a sacred and priceless retreat.

Kipling's Home in Vermont

Kipling’s Home in Vermont

Kipling wrote about the construction of his Vermont home in his autobiography Something of Myself.

Lavish too was the long open attic, as I realised when too late. Pigeon asked me whether I would have it finished in ash or cherry. Ignorant that I was, I chose ash, and so missed a stretch of perhaps the most satisfying interior wood that is grown. Those were opulent days, when timber was nothing regarded, and the best of cabinet-work could be had for little money.

It is interesting to glimpse into the life of one of the world’s most famous novelists and see the somewhat common frustrations he had while building this beautiful home in the mountains of Vermont.

The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. The Landmark Trust owns the property, which offers it for week-long vacation rentals.

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, First Edition

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, First Edition

If you are a fan of Kipling or just looking for a fun place to stay in Vermont, we highly recommend it. Since we live nearby, we have not done this, but we did spend an evening at the house, learning about its history and listening to his “Just So” stories told to us by a wonderful Kipling impersonator. Hearing stories such as the Elephant’s Child (How the Elephant Got His Trunk) in the same room where he told these tals to his children was like stepping into a different world.

If you would like to read more about Naulakha and some of Kipling’s adventures there, including a visit from author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there is a nice article in the New York Times entitled Where Kipling Reared Mowgli (in Vermont).

While living in Vermont, Kipling wrote several famous books. He wrote Captains Courageous, a novel about the adventures of a fifteen-year-old boy who is rescued by fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland, which we have a first edition copy of. While in Vermont, Kipling also wrote both editions of The Jungle Book, a famous collection of fables that provide moral instruction. We have a first edition copy of both The Jungle Book and the Second Jungle Book. Kipling also wrote The Seven Seas in Vermont. To view all of the works we have from Rudyard Kipling, click here.

Captains Courageous, First Edition

Captains Courageous, First Edition

Author Spotlight – Maurice Sendak

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Have you seen the Maurice Sendak Google Doodle that is up today? It celebrates what would have been his 85th Birthday. He passed away last year, but he will live on forever through his amazing illustrations and the legacy that he gave the world.


Maurice Sendak

Sendak’s love of books began when he was a child. He had some health problems that confined him to his bed, but these unfortunate circumstances turned out to be a blessing to the rest of the world, as it created a vivid imagination within the young boy’s mind. Watching Disney’s Fantasia is also cited to be among the inspirations of him deciding to become an illustrator at the age of twelve. At first he would draw illustrations for other people’s stories, but later began writing the stories himself. His first book of acclaim was Where the Wild Things Are, which has won numerous awards, has been made into an animated short in 1973, a full feature film in 2009 and, more importantly, is read by nearly every child in the western world.

When he died, the New York Times obituary called Sendak “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century. He personally wrote over twenty books and illustrated over sixty. His unique and magical style is unmistakable and we are happy that Google was able to capture those illustrations today in its doodle.

Here are a few Sendak books that we currently have in stock:

Where the Wild Things Are Signed First Edition

Where the Wild Things Are Signed First Edition

In The Night Kitchen Signed First Edition Maurice Sendak

In The Night Kitchen Signed First Edition by Maurice Sendak

The Nutcracker Signed First Edition Maurice Sendak

The Nutcracker Signed First Edition by Maurice Sendak

See all books by Maurice Sendak

Collecting Children’s Books

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

First Editions of the First and Second Jungle Book each year we celebrate International Children's Book Day.

April 2nd is the birthday of author Hans Christian Anderson and each year, people around the world celebrate International Children’s Book Day in his honor. We would like to take a moment to talk about collecting children’s books in light of this special day.

Children’s books are highly collectible. They’re immensely nostalgic for collectors, pleasantly reminding us of the magic simplicity of childhood. But they’re also difficult to find in good condition. By nature of being handled and appreciated by children, their pages are torn and marred. Condition is therefore the chief determinant of value, and dust covers are perhaps the scarcest aspect of children’s book to be found in good condition. Parents often discard them immediately to fulfill their inevitable destruction on the child’s behalf.

The earliest children’s books date back to the 17th century, but they were neither well-written nor illustrated until the 1920s when literacy was near universal and color printing available. Millions of Cats is perhaps the first modern children’s book. It was published in 1928 and it the oldest children’s book still in print. Its author, Wanda Gag, was the first to pioneer to book’s unique double-page spread.

Signed, First Edition of Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

Ten years later the illustrator Georges Duplaix created the novel idea of a series of books written and illustrated for very young readers. The books would be bound in pictorial boards (hardcovers with color pictures on the front and back) and sold for cheap. Duplaix’s series, Little Golden Books, became a trend amongst publishers that is responsible for the concept of children’s series. Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House contributed further to the presentation and format of children’s books. She meticulously adjusted each page of The Little House to achieve a balance between text and image that would maximize the child-reader’s interest and education (Burton, 1943).

The Little House Virginia Lee Burton

The Little House first edition

The Story of Ferdinand. First edition, warmly inscribed.

Some children’s books focus less on format and more on content. The Story of Ferdinand (1936) abandoned  factual accuracy to facilitate children’s understanding. Author Robert Lawson depicted Spain’s geography loosely, focusing more on the sense of fun the landscape provided. In similar fashion, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat advanced the efforts made by the genre to educate children. Its publisher, Random House, created for it upon its immense success its own publication house: Beginner Books, for which Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) was made president. Beginner Books dominated the children’s books market of the 1960′s, and it contributed to the blurring of the distinction between education and entertainment books (Zielinksi, 2006).

The Cat in the Hat. First edition, inscribed.

Signed, Fist Edition of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are

Other children’s books derive their novelty from their source of inspiration. For Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1969), Virginia Le Burton ingeniously spoke to children for inspiration for the plot. The idea for the steam shovel becoming a source of heat for the house came directly from a friend’s twelve-year-old son (Sullivan, 2006). The modern series Olivia is similar. The author, Ian Falconer, began the series as a present for his amusing niece, but the specific personality of the character was inspired by an accidental encounter Falconer had with another Olivia of about the same age.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel First Edition

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel First Edition

Olivia first edition set

Olivia first edition set

Gone with the Wind

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Vivien Leigh from the film.

Gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia,” says Scarlett O’Hara in Chapter 24 of the romantic historical novel. She uses the title phrase as she wonders whether her home plantation “Tara” still stands or is gone. The title reflects the loss of a lifestyle that existed in the American South before the Civil War. It is taken from the poem Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson; therefore, it also alludes to lost passion for the old way of life. Gone with the Wind is set in Clayton County, Georgia and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It depicts the experiences of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to come out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” Scarlett’s character is befitting of romance, but she also illustrates cultural themes. For example, she is a southern belle, the archetype for a young, upper class woman of the old American South. The southern belle’s attractiveness lies not in her physical beauty but her charm as a correct code of female behavior aimed at finding a male spouse (Seidel, 1985). Nonetheless, Scarlett also has bad belle traits – deceitfulness, manipulativeness, and superficiality – by which author Margret Mitchell suggests the unnaturalness of the South belle ideal (Entzminger, 2002).

Cultural insight aside, Mitchell received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Gone with the Wind in 1937, the only book she ever published, and two years later it was adapted into the classic American film. Its enduring legacy is indisputable. People worldwide have come to accept it as an accurate account of the reformation of the Old South by the American Civil War and Reconstruction, for which the film only “amplified this effect” (Williamson, 1993).

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind Signed First Edition

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

First edition, first printing with the date on the title page of the author's first novel and masterpiece.

Carson McCullers published The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) when she was twenty-three. It follows deaf John Singer and the people he encounters in a 1930s mill town in the US state of Georgia. The narrative primarily centers around John’s acquaintances, and McCullers enriches it through a limited-omniscient tone that is highly episodic. Chapters focus on individual characters and access his or her thoughts, yet the tone is limited to one character’s inner dialogue at a time. The effect is gossipy, and it contributes to the sense of ruralness that McCullers portrays. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter also exemplifies the Southern gothic genre. It mixes traditional gothic elements — mystery, suspense, the grotesque, the supernatural — and locates them in the American South. This genre was very popular when the novel was written, with contemporaries like William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor writing in a comparable style.The Southern gothic craze extended to film as well. Faulkner and Tennessee Williams acquired movie adaptations in the 1950′s and ’60s.

Carson McCuller

When the Heart is a Lonely Hunter was adapted for film in 1968 it was nominated numerously, including Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture. Befittingly, the novel is a classic. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter seventeenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

California Book Fair Dreaming…

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

This weekend we will be at the Santa Monica International Antiquarian Book Fair in Santa Monica. Book fairs are a fun and convenient way to meet like-minded book collectors and sellers, so please join us in Santa Monica! Over 90 quality exhibitors will offer for sale a wide variety of Antiquarian, Rare and First Edition Books, Prints, Posters, Vintage Photographs, Autographs, Fine Graphics, Maps, Manuscripts and many other unique pieces of Ephemera. The seasoned enthusiast or beginning collector should not miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience so many fine collections all in one location.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

1855 Main Street,
Santa Monica, CA
Ample Parking is available.

Saturday, February 9:
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday, February 10th
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Find us in Booth 919

The following weekend, we will be exhibiting at the 46th California International Antiquarian Book Fair

California Antiquarian Book Fair

California International Antiquarian Book Fair

Friday, February 15:
3 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 16th:
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sunday, February 17th:

11a.m. – 5 p.m.


635 8th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 487-3293

A three-day admission ticket can be purchased at the door on Friday, February 15th for $25.00. Tickets purchased on Saturday or Sunday are $15.00 and include return entry throughout the remainder of the Fair. ABAA and ILAB members admitted free upon showing membership card. If you have been given a VIP Complimentary Pass from an exhibitor (of which we still have some), please exchange your pass for a 3-day ticket at the door.

The San Francisco three-day event is the largest antiquarian book fair in the world and will offer something exciting for every book lover and collector. Among the exhibited materials of over 200 American and international dealers, you can peruse and purchase rare items from medieval manuscripts to collectible editions of authors into the 21st century. There will be unusual books on travel and exploration (including maps), literature, the arts, science and medicine, children’s books, law and commerce, ephemera, Americana, and history in all eras and geographical areas. First, signed, and limited editions of many important authors will be present, plus collections of original photographs, prints by renowned artists from the 16th to the 21st century, and remarkable examples of book making, binding, and typography from throughout the world. Our professional booksellers, who are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America or the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, will be happy to share with you specialized knowledge of their subject fields, as well as to discuss your own collecting interests. You may also attend seminars and lectures on book-related topics, plus bring in some of your own books for appraisal on our Discovery Day. Of special note this year will be a major exhibit of rare Asian books, manuscripts, and artifacts from the collections of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

Find us in Booth 201. We hope to see you there!

James Bond First Editions

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

There are many reasons why a Twentieth-Century novel may be well-written and well-received, and few books exemplify these features as Ian Fleming’s James Bond series does. Fleming’s fourteen-book long series is critically respected, successful, and highly collectible. They are some of the most popular spy thrillers ever written, and they look wonderful as a set. They’re also a fun and accessible starting point for those interested in collecting modern literature. You can start your collection with more accessible copies and work your up to the more expensive ones. Affordability is another popular point of James Bond novels, as some first editions can be acquired with relative ease. Titles such as Octopussy, The Spy Who Loved Me, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The Man with the Golden Gun (without the embossed gun on the cover) are common enough that quality copies can be can purchased without breaking the bank.

James Bond Octopussy First Edition Dust Jacket

Octopussy First Edition

James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me First Edition Dust Jacket

The Spy Who Loved Me First Edition

James Bond Thunderball First Edition Dust Jacket

Thunderball First Edition

James Bond On Her Majesty's Secret Service First Edition Dust Jacket

On Her Majesty's Secret Service First Edition

James Bond The Man With the Golden Gun First Edition Dust Jacket

The Man With the Golden Gun First Edition

But scarcity also plays a role, and much more than other modern books, prices differ considerably according to levels of condition. One factor is that binding is greatly variegated. For example, the difference in the aged yellow shading on the dust jacket of, say, a first edition For Yours Eyes Only can negate the effect of the unique, fugitive red font color of the title. Thus a crisp, clean dust jacket can increase the value of the book six fold. Condition is crucial when valuing Bond novels, as with all modern literature. Even a blemish as slight as a price-clipped dust jacket markedly decreases the value. Of course, these variations make collecting Ian Fleming’s James Bond series more fun, as do the dust jackets.

For Your Eyes Only James Bond First Edition

For Your Eyes Only First Edition

James Bond Goldfinger First Edition Dust Jacket

Goldfinger First Edition

James Bond Moonraker First Edition Dust Jacket

Moonraker First Edition

The illustrated dust jacket designs are another good reason to collect the first editions. They are culturally and historically emblematic of the perceptions of the decade in which they were created.  The first editions use symbols and static imagery to suggest themes too mature for public expression in the 1950’s. Fleming himself designed the cover of Casino Royale when it was published in 1953, and he described it as portraying exquisite symmetry and absolute chastity. The dramatic imagery of hearts, like those found on a playing card, gives the impression of wealth and gambling.

James Bond Casino Royale First Edition Dust Jacket

Casino Royale First Edition

As the decades progressed, the front cover was changed from symbols to female figures, and a more open attitude towards sexuality can be seen in these simplistic designs.  On Diamonds are Forever, we see a tame image of an elegant woman wearing a large diamond. Towards the end of the novel, Fleming writes “Death is forever. But so are diamonds.” Diamonds are metaphorical for death, and Bond is death’s messenger because he carries the diamonds from London to New York. This is reflective of the immense novelty diamonds had to the British populous at that time (Benson, 1988). The cover art symbolizes the adventurous themes and content of the Bond series, and by right of their playfulness, it is no wonder Ian Fleming’s series continues to be a commercial success.

Diamonds are Forever First Edition Dust Jacket

Diamonds are Forever Inscribed First Edition

The value of Bond first editions have steadily increased since publication, and the release of the blockbuster films has contributed to their success.  Casino Royale is a title that has resurged in popularity since the release of the 2006 film. Interestingly, the film’s title sequence was directly inspired by the first edition dust jacket. For the collector, therefore, it is important to know how to identify the issue points of a unique, first edition.

Fleming’s first edition Bonds are easy to identify. This is yet another reason to collect his first editions: they are not complicated by publishing histories. First editions should be in their original dust jackets with no quotes from critics or reviewers. Quotes indicate that it is a later publication. All fourteen of the Fleming Bond series are published by Jonathan Cape in London between 1953 and 1966. A first edition should say Jonathan Cape on the title page and “First published” with the respective publication year on the back of the title page. The only Bond novel that has any other issue point is that of Live and Let Die, which should not have a line on the front flap of the dust jacket, crediting the jacket designer, which can be found on later printings.

Live and Let Die First Edition Dust Jacket

Live and Let Die First Edition

For the true Bond collector, there are two particularly unique books to add to a set of first editions. There is a version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that is the only signed limited edition made while was living. Also The Man with the Golden Gun was originally published with a golden gun design on the front cover. This was abandoned due to the expense of the design, making these copies rare. These two are the perfect embellishment for collectors who already possess a basic set of the first editions.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Dust Jacket

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Signed Limited Edition

Man with the Golden Gun First Edition

Man with the Golden Gun First Edition

We hope you have enjoyed this little exploration into the world of James Bond first editions. Please let us know if we can help answer any questions or clarify anything regarding these first editions or if you would like help in putting together your collection.

Rare Books – a Meaningful and Unique Christmas Gift Idea

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

We love Christmas here at Raptis Rare Books. I have to admit, our Pandora Christmas station is already playing and it probably will not stop until after the New Year. There is just something so magical about the holidays.

As the  shopping season approaches though, its easy to get overwhelmed by the crowds at the shopping malls. We all want to find that perfect gift, but sometimes it is just so difficult. There are many options to choose from, but we want to find something that our loved ones will appreciate and that will be special or unique.

Perhaps you have already found the joy in giving rare books as gifts, or maybe you have been the recipient of a treasured volume. There are few gifts that are as lasting and appreciated as a rare book. They hold within its pages not only historical and cultural significance, but often also a personal significance to the recipient. Whether it is a beloved childhood book that turned them on to the joys of reading or a favorite title they read in high school or college, people treasure these books like a close friend.

A rare book makes a memorable gift for the Holidays

We once had a customer purchase a rare book as a gift for a colleague. They mentioned to us that another colleague was receiving a flat screen television because this is what he wanted. While the television was also quite a nice present, the customer mentioned what a unique gift the rare book was and how happy they were to purchase it. The rare first edition book will continue to be a treasured item for many many years to come, which the flat screen is sadly most likely now outdated and probably in a landfill.

So, you know you want to bless your friends and family with a meaningful rare book… but where to start? First edition books come in a wide range of subjects and price ranges, suitable for any budget. We suggest to first find out what some of the recipients favorite books, authors, or genres are if you don’t already know. Once you have put together a list of ideas, now its time to find a book that fits your budget and find a reputable dealer. If you need help with this, you can email us at or give us a call at 802.579.1580.  We can often find just what you are looking for.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Children’s Picture Books:

Madeline Signed First Edition

The Circus is Coming illustrated by Hilary Knight. Signed first edition. $35

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Signed later printing. $275.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Inscribed first edition. $9,500

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Inscribed first edition. $20,000


Beloved Children’s/ Young Adult Literature:

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. First edition. $350

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Signed first edition. $12,500

The Hobbit by J.R. R Tolkien. First UK edition. $50,000 or first US edition, rebound. $4000


Classics in Literature:

The Adventures of Huck Finn first edition

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn First edition

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Signed first edition. $350

Old New York, 4 volume first edition set by Edith Wharton. $1,250

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. First edition $6,500

Don Quixote by Cervantes. First complete English edition. $30,000

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. First edition in dust jacket. $165,000


Fine Binding Literature Sets:

The Works of Guy de Maupassant. $450

The Complete works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. $1,000

Complete set of George Eliot first editions. $9,500

The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer. $32,500

First Edition of the Iliad and Odyssey

First Edition of The Iliad and Odyssey translated by Alexander Pope


For the History Buff:

The Good War by Studs Terkel. Inscribed first edition. $125

A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill. 4 Volume Set, First American editions. $250

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Inscribed first edition. $2,250

The California and Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman. First edition. $6,000


For the Traveler or Explorer:

Vivid Spain by Joe Mitchell Chapple. Inscribed first edition. $75

Daring Deeds of Polar Explorers by G. Firth Scott. First edition. $125

I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. Inscribed first edition in rare dust jacket. $750

West with the Night by Beryl Markham. Signed first edition. $4,250


Books for the Businessman:

First Edition of Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd

Security Analysis First Edition

The Businessman’s Book of Quotations by Ralph Woods. Signed first edition. $55

Where the Money Grows by Garet Garrett. First edition. $275

The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich Hayek. First edition. $750

The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by J.M. Keynes. First edition, finely rebound. $2,500

Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd. First edition. $22,000


For the Science or Nature Lover:

What Bird is That? by Frank Chapman. First edition. $200

Quantum Electronics by Charles Townes. Signed first edition. $475

The Molecular Biology of the Gene by James Watson. Signed first edition. $850

Fractals by Benoit Mandelbrot. Inscribed first edition. $2,250

Relativity by Albert Einstein. Inscribed first edition. $35,000


For the Sports Enthusiast:

The Summer Game first edition

The Summer Game Signed First Edition

Cousy on the Celtic Mystic by Bob Cousy. Inscribed first edition. $35

Tennis for the Bloody Fun of It by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson. Inscribed first edition. $175

The Summer Game by Roger Angell. Inscribed first edition. $275

A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour. Inscribed first edition. $750


There are many more book titles we could suggest… those for the cook, wine lover, photographer, musician and many more, but this post may never end. Just browse our inventory by subject or do an advanced search. We also often have many titles that have not been cataloged, so just because we don’t have it online doesn’t mean we either don’t have it or can’t get it for you, so let us help you in any way we can.

We also offer a variety of gift services, such as free gift wrapping and rush delivery. Handmade protective custom leather clamshell boxes can be made for any book as well. If you still can’t narrow down the perfect item, we offer gift certificates for any amount. It is our aim to make we give you the highest quality customer service and make your experience with us as stress-free as possible.

We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season filled with love, blessings….and rare books.

If you are new to book collecting, we suggest you read a previous post, 3 Mistakes to Avoid when Buying First Editions and Rare Books

Identifying The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings First Edition Issue Points

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of the most iconic and sought after first editions books on the market today. We could wax long about Tolkien’s imaginative style or the ways in which the books have affected our culture or children’s fantasy writers after him, but much has been written on this topic. Since we are a rare book firm, what we want to do today is to explain some of the first edition issue points of both of these classic works.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known simply as The Hobbit, was first published in England in 1937 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd. with a printing run of 1,500 copies.  The copyright page has the statement, “First Published in 1937″ with no mention of additional printing dates.

The Hobbit first edition copyright page

The boards are green (approximately 7.5 x 5.3 inches) with pictorial decorations of a dragon and mountain range with sun and moon to the front and back . There are 310 numbered pages and the top page edges are stained green, with the other sides being white.

First edition of The Hobbit

Thror’s map is shown on the front endpapers and Wilderland to the rear endpapers, printed in both in red and black ink. The book itself has no color illustrations, but there are ten black-and-white illustrations, which are listed on the page preceding chapter 1. All of the artwork in the book, including the boards and dust jacket was done by Tolkien himself.

Rear end leaves of the first edition of The Hobbit

The dust jacket has an error on the rear flap, where Dodgson is incorrectly spelled Dodgeson, and this mistake was hand corrected by the publishers.

The Hobbit first edition dust jacket

Correction to the rear flap of The Hobbit first issue dust jacket

A number of errors can be found in the text of the first edition. The following are listed in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography by Wayne Hammond.

1. page 14, lines 17-18, ‘find morning’, for ‘fine morning’.
2. page 17, lines 29-30, “So you have got here at last! what (for That) was what he was going to say’.
3. page 25, line 11, ‘more fierce then fire’ for ‘more fierce than fire’.
4. page 62, lines 2-3, ‘uncomfortable palpitating’ for ‘uncomfortable, palpitating’
5. page 62, line 31, ‘their bruises their tempers and their hopes’ for ‘their bruises, their tempers and their hopes’.
6. page 64, line 21, ‘where the thrush knocks’ for ‘when the thrush knocks’.
7. page 85, line 10, ‘far under under the mountains’ for ‘far under the mountains’.
8. page 104, line 17, ‘back tops’ for ‘black tops’.
9. page 147, line 16, ‘nor what you call’ for ‘not what you call’.
10. page 183, line 26, reversed double quotation marks for the word ‘Very’.
11. page 205, line 32, ‘dwarves good feeling’ for ‘dwarves’ godd feeling’.
12. page 210, line 29, ‘above stream’ for ‘above the stream’.
13. page 215, line13, ‘door step’ for ‘doorstep’.
14. page 216, line 4, ‘leas’ for ‘least’
15. page 229, lines 16-17, ‘you imagination’ for ‘your imagination’.
16. page 248, line 32, ‘nay breakfast’ for ‘any breakfast’.


The first US edition was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1938. The book has tan cloth binding over boards, imprinted with a red hobbit bowing to the left in the upper right of the title on the front. For subsequent printings, the title page was changed to a seated flute player, as the bowing hobbit illustration shows the hobbit wearing boots, which is not accurate to the story. The size is larger than the British edition (approximately 8.3 x 6 inches), but again with 310 numbered pages. The dust jacket is in blue, showing the Hobbiton frontispiece in color and a price of $2.50. The title page shows the outline of the same hobbit bowing similar to the cover and has red endpaper maps, similar to the British edition except that the British maps were black and red. Again, all of the artwork is by Tolkien. The first and second printings both have a mistake in that chapter 7 is titled chapter 6. This was corrected by the third printing.

First US Edition of The Hobbit, showing title page with bowing hobbit, all red end leaf map, and colored frontispiece


Following the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien’s publishers asked if he would write another book about hobbits. Thus, the Lord of the Rings was born. It was a long novel that took a long time in coming, however: it was not completed until 1952, being a length of 1,192 pages. Since it was so large, the publishers felt it should be broken up into three books. This also protected them from financial loss, as they wouldn’t publish the subsequent parts if the first part was a flop.

George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London published the first edition of The Fellowship of the Rings in July of 1954, with a mere printing of 3,000 copies. In November of the same year, the second part, The Two Towers was printed, with 3,250 copies made of that run. The Return of the King followed in October of 1955 with 7,000 copies. The first edition copyright pages of these should all have the dates above and no other dates listed. All three feature the jacket design by Tolkien, which is called the Ring and Eye device. It is important to note that the rear jacket flap of all three books lists all three books in the series even though, for example, The Return of the King hadn’t been published when the Fellowship of the Ring was printed. Since the complete series was written and most likely going to be published, the publishers wanted readers to be waiting in expectation for the rest of the series.

First edition set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy

We hope that we have helped you understand these issue points and a little of these books’ printing history. If you have any questions about this post or have a first edition you would like to sell, please feel free to contact us.

Anne of Green Gables First Edition

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Just over 100 years ago, Lucy Maud Montgomery introduced the world to a red-headed, spirited, orphan girl named Anne (with an “e”) Shirley. Since that first edition in 1908, this girl adopted into a little town called Avonlea in Prince Edward Island, Canada has been stealing the hearts of readers generation after generation and is still adored by “kindred spirits” around the world today.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

“Montgomery began writing about Anne as a serial for a Sunday school periodical in the spring of 1904. The character is, many believe, based on her own life. Montgomery’s “mother died when she was two, and she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents in their farmhouse. In character she seems to have much resembled her heroine Anne. She became a teacher, but gave it up to look after her widowed grandmother” (Carpenter & Pritchard, 356). Anne’s character became so real that she eventually decided to develop the idea into a full novel. Much as would later with readers, Anne took hold of her creator, developing into a feisty, imaginative little being who demanded to be noticed and loved” (Keeline, 41) Although it was rejected four times before finally being published, the novel was an immediate sensation and the series followed. At that time, there were not many great female protagonists in novels, but there was a great audience of women readers who fell in love with this bright and extremely imaginative red-headed orphan.

Anne of Green Gables was published in Boston by L.C. Page first in April of 1908. The second printing was in July 1908. There were no printing in June of that year, although later editions omit the April impression on the copyright page and list June instead. The first two printings were extremely small, as the publishers did not yet know how popular the book would be. The immediate popularity caused it to go into fourteen printings in the first year alone and sold 19,000 copies in the first five months.

Dust jackets of these early printings are virtually unknown. There are three color variants of the boards of the first printing – chocolate brown, light green, and beige. No priority has ever been established, although it is generally believed that the brown variant is the most uncommon.

Anne of Green Gables First Edition

The Anne series remains one of the most beloved girl books ever written, having sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and translated into at least 20 languages. It has also been adapted into numerous films, television series, and plays. It is “the most popular and enduring of a host of girls’ stories published in the United States and Canada in the first years of the 20th century” (Carpenter & Pritchard, 25-26).