Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1892. First Edition. Hardcover. Contemporary signed presentation copy, inscribed, in ink, on the first blank, “George Fairbanks, jr. from his affect [ionate] friend Horatio Alger Jr. Christmas 1892.” Inscribed 1st editions of all Alger’s novels (but only his novels) are seldom seen, though they are not as rare as the newspaper headline we never see, “Psychic Wins Lottery.” Original cloth, complete with the 12 pages of ads, some ripples to the front cover (visible in our photo), inner paper hinges expertly strengthened in a few places (no other repair), but easily very good, sharper than a paper cut, a slumpbuster for any undisciplined buyer, and as pretty in your hands as it looks in our picture. Very good. Item #417
In 1867 Alger created a new genre, the modern American rags to riches novel (actually, rags to respectability), the tycoon’s Cinderella. The integrities of his impoverished heroes were self–reliance, thrift, bravery, pluck, determination, cheerfulness, honesty, and hard work, and it was with those 8 virtues (always supplemented by some timely luck) that they outwitted urban villainy, in an assortment of perverse forms, and rose to middle–class security. Alger’s novels were more wholesome than an organic grape, and had less variety than the single tissues in a box of Kleenex, but big doors need dependable hinges and it was through that fidelity that he became the most socially influential writer of his time, and he fully realized his doctrines in Digging For Gold, a Western influenced evolved expression of the gilded age (post–transcendentalist) recipe for the American dream, and his myth became our national ethos. And here’s a statistic not to be dismissed like some sock lost behind the dryer. Alger still reigns as the all time, bestselling, 19th century American novelist.