New York: Platt & Munk, 1930. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition, 1st printing of the dustjacket (a few copies with the same state of the sheets, boxed, without a dustjacket precede). Universally famous and legendarily rare, beyond the reach of even the most resourceful collectors. The basis for it was an evolving, oral folk tale, occasionally printed from 1902 (in a Swedish journal) and then with various titles including The Pony Engine (in Kindergarten Review, 1910, under the name Mary Jacobs, and in a 1916 journal under the name Mabel Bragg). The title was changed to The Little Engine That Could in 1920 (vol. 1 of My Book House by Olive Miller, a series sold door–to–door), but none of these author’s took convincing credit for originating the fable, and though all these retellings have the train carrying toys and good food for children living on the other side of the mountain, the stories are all brief and thin. In our book it is finally developed into the expanded, codified account that’s immortal. Original red cloth in fine condition, with a glossy, color cover illustration and 9 titles listed on the verso of the front free endpaper (this is state Aa, but the book was unchanged in its earliest reprintings, so you need the dustjacket to confirm that it is correct), tiny Robinson’s Bookstore ticket to the rear pastedown, confirming our copy’s sale at retail. Both book and jacket have the 2–line imprint starting with No. 358. This is the 1st printing dustjacket (state Aa) with blank flaps, the back panel with 4 titles all priced $1.00 each (4 titles is the critical point, not 6 or 9 which are all reprints and calling them 1st editions, even if moderated with qualifiers like early issue, or 2nd issue, or 2nd state, is a deception), tears, creases and chips including a large chip to the bottom of the blank rear flap), undeniably a shaky jacket, but it’s still good, and fresh, and integral, and never repaired. Fine half morocco case. A notorious rarity by any measure when it’s correct. It looks like only 1 copy in a genuine 1st printing jacket is listed in the auction record for the last 50 years, while 3 others listed were in the wrong jacket and miscataloged, and the copies offered online are also wrong, and they have descriptions that should embarrass their sellers, who would be better served being silent as a picture hanging on a wall, and the value of copies in the wrong jacket will have less permanence than a U. S. Indian treaty. fine / good. Item #507
You say you can find a finer copy? I doubt you can find any other copy in the proper dustjacket (I think you can’t, I think you can’t). The retelling for this edition was written by Arnold Munk, one of the book’s publisher’s, and it was he who hired Lois Lenski to illustrate it. In an NPR interview, an analysis by paleontology professor Roy Plotnick confirmed that The Little Engine That Could was a girl and further that the larger engines, that declined to help, were boys, so what we have here is an early, inspirational feminist hero. And though she was always a blue engine, she didn’t get her name, Tillie, until the 1991 film. Choo–choo. I love this book recklessly. This book and I are a scandal. And listen up booksellers. When outlining a book’s bibliography and describing its condition, set yourself free. There’s something liberating about not pretending, because a time comes for every flower, when the reassurance of staying tight in the bud finally becomes more painful than the risk it takes to blossom. And that touches on why Biblioctopus is here. To defend the world against bland bookselling (Book Code).