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Submitted by admin on 09 Dec. 2009
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The world of collectible children's books has come of age. Although children's books have always been collected, it is only within the last ten years that they have blasted into the consciousness of the book collecting world in general and even into the minds of the non collecting public. It now goes without saying that great first edition collections should also include firsts of classic children's literature as well ...

Helen Younger


The world of collectible children's books has come of age. Although children's books have always been collected, it is only within the last ten years that they have blasted into the consciousness of the book collecting world in general and even into the minds of the non collecting public. It now goes without saying that great first edition collections should also include firsts of classic children's literature as well.

A bit of explanation and a few caveats about this list are in order. The books included here are not necessarily representative of the best literature for children, but rather a list of what is currently collectible. Collecting in this field is no different than collecting in any other field; it is subject to fads. Fifty years ago Jacob Blanck included on his list of the best loved American children's books "Peter Parley to Penrod", two titles by John Townsend Trowbridge. Today, you'd be hard pressed to find any collector who is familiar with his name at all. In several cases, and for the sake of brevity, only one book by an author / illustrator has been included. Thus you will find "Tom Sawyer" but not "Huckleberry Finn" or you will see "Winnie the Pooh" but not "When We Were Very Young."

You may also notice the absence of traditional "series" books which, although they are children's books, fall into a class of their own and thus are not included here. Using the hundred year parameter of 1863 1963 necessitated excluding some landmark figures. On the early end notably missing are Edward Lear, Hans Christian Andersen, Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault, Heinrich Hoffmann and Nathaniel Hawthorne. On the modern side, Chris Van Allsburg is not included. These restrictions were necessary in order to keep the size from becoming unmanageable.

1863 marked the publication of Charles Kingsley's "Water Babies", one of the first "modern" fantasies for children. One hundred years later in 1963 Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" sealed his name forever in the annals of collectible books. Almost every title listed has a "story" attached to it; printing histories, issue points and first edition determinations all factor in heavily. Naturally, the best place to hear these stories is to start with a specialist dealer in the field. For instance, you would wait a long time to find an 1865 British "Alice" but then you'd need that time to accumulate the funds to afford it. However a collection can do just fine with the American printing from the British sheets or with the 1866 British "first published" "Alice" and that is where expert guidance can help. If you're just beginning, you will also need advice on criteria that determine collectible condition, including the importance or unimportance of dust wrappers. As a general rule, children's books must be in very good fine condition, but the same rigorous standards used in modern literature are really not applied here. Many of these titles are perfectly collectible without dust wrappers and if they do have dust wrappers, the fact that the wrapper may be chipped, torn or incomplete is not of great consequence. In other words, if you find a first issue of Baum's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" but the dust wrapper is soiled and worn, don't wait around for a "better" copy just grab it and run! However, if you are offered first editions of "Winnie the Pooh" or "Charlotte's Web" without dust wrappers, take a pass. Without beating a dead horse, a children's book specialist dealer will have had the experience to know which books are collectible in any condition and which need to be mint to have value.

If it can be said that there is a "problem" with collecting children's books, it is that the field is so broad and varied that one might not know where to begin. The list of "highspots" that follow should help address the challenge. This list can be used as an end in itself or used as a jumping off point to collect in any of the thousands of directions to which it may lead.

1863
Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. London: Macmillan

1865[6]
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. London:Macmillan

1865
Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge. New York: James O'Kane

1865-76
Walter Crane's Toybooks. London: Routledge

1868-9
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. 2 Volumes. Boston: Roberts

1869

Wonderful Adventures of Humpty Dumpty by Thomas Nast. 2 Volumes. New York: McLoughlin Brothers

1870
In Fairyland Illustrated by Richard Doyle. London: Longmans, Green & Co.

1871
At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald. London: Strahan & Co. [First Edition in Book Form]

1872
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. London

1876
Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel Clemens. Hartford: American Pub. Co

1878
House That Jack Built by Randolph Caldecott [Plus] the 15 Books in the Set. London: Routledge

1878
Under the Window Illustrated by Kate Greenaway. London: Routledge

1881
Uncle Remus His Songs and Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris. New York: D. Appleton

1883
Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. New York: Scribners

1883
Adventure Di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. First Ed. In Book Form [First Ed. In English 1892]

1884
Heidi by Johanna Spyri. 1st English Ed. 2 Vols. (Heidi's Early Experiences and Heidi's Further Experiences).

1887
Brownies: Their Book by Palmer Cox. New York: Century

1887
Internationaler Circus by Lothar Meggendorfer. Esslingen & Munchen: J.F. Schrieber

1888
Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. London: David Nutt [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1889
Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang [Plus] the 10 Other "Color Fairy" Books. London: Longmans, Green

1891
Maud Humphrey's Mother Goose Illus. By Maud Humphrey. New York: Stokes

1893
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. 1st Ed. With the Illustrations by Laurence Housman. London: Macmillan [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition] [1st Is 1862]

1894
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. London: Macmillan

1895
Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls by Florence Upton. London: Longmans, Green

1895
Arabella and Araminta Stories Illustrated by Gertrude Smith. Boston: Copeland and Day [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1896

Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson Illus. By Charles Robinson. London: John Lane, the Bodley Head [Issued Unillustrated First and this Illustrated Edition Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1896
Jeanne D'arc by M. Boutet De Monvel. Paris: Plon Nourrit [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1897
Mother Goose in Prose by L. Frank Baum Illus. By Maxfield Parrish. Chicago: Way & Williams

1899
Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman. London: Grant Richards

1899
Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit. London: T. Fisher Unwin

1900
Goops and How to Be Them by Gellett Burgess. New York: Stokes

1900

Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter - Privately Printed Ed. [Trade Edition First Published in 1902. London: Warne]

1900
Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Chicago: George M. Hill

1901
Denslow's Mother Goose by W.W. Denslow. New York: McClure Phillips

1902
Adventures of Uncle Lubin by W. Heath Robinson. London: Grant Richards

1904
Volga by Ivan Bilibin. St. Petersburg

1904
Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field Illus. By Maxfield Parrish. New York: Scribner

1905
Story of Noah's Ark by E. Boyd Smith. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

1906
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1906
Peter Poodle: Toy Maker to the King by Will Bradley. New York: Dodd Mead

1906
Roosevelt Bears Their Travels and Adventures by Seymour Eaton. Philadelphia: Stern

1908
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Boston: L.C. Page

1908
Hole Book by Peter Newell. New York: Harper Bros

1908
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. London: Methuen

1908
Fables of Aesop Illustrated by Edward Detmold. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1909
Water Babies by Charles Kingsley Illustrated by Warwick Goble. London: Macmillan [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1910
Sleeping Beauty Illustrated by Edmund Dulac. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1911
Peter and Wendy by J.m. Barrie. London: Hodder & Stoughton

1911
Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. NY: Stokes

1911
Treasure Island Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. New York: Scribner

1912
Little Songs of Long Ago Illus. By H. Willebeek Le Mair. London: Augener [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1914
East of the Sun and West of the Moon Illustrated by Kay Nielsen. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1914
Jessie Willcox Smith Mother Goose. New York: Dodd Mead

1914
Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess. Boston: Little Brown

1915
House of Pomegranates by Oscar Wilde Illus. By Jessie King. London: Methuen

1916
Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen Illustrated by Harry Clarke. London: George Harrap [Also [Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1918
Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle. Joliet: Volland

1919
Macao et Cosmage by Edy Legrand. Paris: Nouvelle Revue

1919
Ship That Sailed to Mars by William Timlin. London: Harrap

1920
Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. New York: Stokes

1922
Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Bianco. London: Heinemann

1922
Wonderful Adventures of Little Prince Toofat illustrated by Robert Lawson. New York: James McCann

1923
ABC by C.B. Falls. New York: Doubleday Page [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1924
Poppy Seed Cakes Illustrated by Maud & Miska Petersham. New York: Doubleday

1925
Knave of Hearts Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. New York: Scribner

1926
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. London: Methuen [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1926
Fairyland by Ida Outhwaite. Melbourne: Ramsay Pub. [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1928
Bambi by Felix Salten. NY: Simon & Schuster 1st U.S. Ed.

1928
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. NY: Coward McCann [Also Issued In Deluxe Edition]

1928
Willy Pogany's Mother Goose. New York: Nelson [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1929
Pirate Twins by William Nicholson. London: Faber & Faber [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1930
First Picture Book by Edward Steichen. New York: Harcourt Brace

1930
Mother Goose Picture Book by Berta and Elmer Hader. New York: Coward McCann

1930
Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. NY: Platt & Munk

1931
L'Histoire De Babar. Paris: Jardin Des Modes [First Ed. In English pub. in 1933 in New York by Smith & Haas]

1931
Adventures of Mickey Mouse Book 1 by the Disney Studios. Philadelphia: McKay

1932
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York: Harper Bros.

1933
Story about Ping by Margery Flack illus. Kurt Wiese. New York: Viking

1934
Mary Poppins by P.l. Travers. London: Gerald Howe

1936
Giant Otto & Otto at Sea by William Pene du Bois. New York: Viking

1936
Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. New York: Viking

1936
Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain. London: Oxford Univ. Press

1937
And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. New York: Vanguard

1937
Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien. London

1937
Animals of the Bible Illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop. New York: Stokes

1938
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. New York: Simon & Schuster

1938
Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor. New York: Oxford Univ. Press

1939
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

1939
World Is Round by Gertrude Stein. New York: William Scott [Also Issued in Limited Edition]

1939
Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Illus. By N.C. Wyeth. NY: Scribner. [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition in 1940]

1940
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. New York: Simon & Schuster

1941
Curious George by H.A. Rey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

1941
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. New York: Viking

1943
Little Prince by A. St. Exupery. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock [Also Issued in Deluxe Edition]

1947
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. New York: Harper Brothers

1950
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. London: Bles

1952
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. New York: Harper Bros.

1955
Eloise by Kay Thompson. New York: Simon & Schuster

1962
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. New York: Ariel

1963
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. New York: Harper & Row

The article first appeared in Firsts: the Book Collector's Magazine, Volume 3, No. 12. Copyright © by Firsts Magazine, Inc. No portion of this article may be reproduced or redistributed without their express written permission. It is published on the website of Aleph-Bet Books, 85 Old Mill River Rd., Pound Ridge, NY 10576 USA, and presented here by permission of Helen Younger. Thanks very much.

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