After seven years of research, our guide to determining first editions of Dr. Seuss books was published in 2002. Because everyone loves Dr. Seuss, his books have become both extremely collectible and can be pricey as well. The problem had always been how to determine first editions - a slippery slope which is confusing and tricky. Our book is 200 pages, indexed and contains hundreds of full color illustrations as well as full bibliographic descriptions of first editions of all of Seuss' American books. Copies are available directly from us for $150.
REVIEW IN FIRSTS MAGAZINE (December, 2002)
First Editions of
Dr. Seuss Books:
A Guide to Identification
Helen and Marc Younger,
Saco, ME: Custom Communications, 2002,
200 pages, $150 + $6 Shipping
States "First Edition" and "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1" on the copyright page
Copies may be obtained from the authors: Aleph-Bet Books, 85 Old
Mill River Rd., Pound Ridge, NY 10576; Telephone (914) 764-7410
Children's literature occupies a special place in nearly everyone's hearts, especially book collectors'. Most of us have fond memories of the books of our childhood, dating from our earliest years, when they were read loud to us by our parents at bedtime. These were among the best hours of childhood. Later, we found other books in school and public libraries. These, too, were stored away in fond memory. All of these tend to remain important to us as the years pass, and we often seek them out again to read to our children and grandchildren, hoping to pass on to them the magic we found when we were young. Children's books are fundamental to our heritage, cornerstones of our culture.
My first encounter with Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. My mother read it aloud to me some time during the early stages of the Second World War, and we revisited it often, since I wanted to hear it again and again, as is often the case with children and their favorite stories. Although she has been gone for more than 30 years, whenever I think of Dr. Seuss, I hear her voice again.
The "Dick and Jane" series was widely used in schools to teach reading but, as the Youngers and Hirsch remark in their introduction, many children actually taught themselves to read with the help of Geisel's works, especially The Cat in the Hat. This enchanting book was especially helpful in teaching reading to deprived inner city youngsters, since the entire work was written using only 220 different words. There can be little doubt that Dr. Seuss had a profound and positive impact on our society.
For those of us who collect first editions, children's books are often our most prized possessions. However, it is often frustrating to try to collect children's books. Many publishers skipped their usual identification practices with their children's titles, meaning that identification often comes down to dust wrapper pricing or binding color or book size. The scant information available is badly organized, and often the result of guesswork rather than scholarship. We had heard for years that the Youngers, whose Aleph-Bet Books is one of the premier children's booksellers in the world, were working on a Dr. Seuss bibliography. After some time passed, we heard that they had abandoned the project, concluding that a comprehensive, authoritative bibliography was an impossible undertaking. Fortunately for all of us, they had merely decided to modify the project, and deal with only the part of the bibliography that is of most interest to book collectors, the primary first editions.
The result is this splendid book, a guide to Dr. Seuss that is both highly entertaining and full of information. It is much more usable than most bibliographies. For once, the bibliographers not only sought out and noted all of the pertinent facts about the books in question, but also paid the same kind of attention to the dust wrappers, and support their written material with color photographs of both the books and the dust wrappers. First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books is arranged alphabetically - certainly appropriate for the subject. For each entry, the book and the dust wrapper are described, not only in the usual bibliographical terms, but also by height and width, binding materials, and the price of the book (both the amount and where it is located in the design). Even more important is the last entry for each work: First Printing Points.
First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books is library bound and issued without a dust wrapper, which allows it to be handled repeatedly without danger of soiling. The use of the original cover and dust wrapper illustrations lend it the enchanting spirit of Dr. Seuss and the information it contains should clarify, once and for all time, identifying the true firsts. What more could you ask? Now, if the Youngers and Hirsch would only tackle some of the other authors in the endlessly mystifying world of children's firsts. But even if they pass on these other projects, they have surely accomplished one thing: they have set the standard for children's book bibliographies.
The book's price, $150, reflects the small press run and the cost of using color throughout, but for anyone interested in Dr. Seuss, having such a reference work is indispensable. Speaking for my old friend Cubbins, "500 hats off!"
CORRECTIONS TO THE GUIDE (updated 04-07-2007)
p. 15 In the earliest state of the first printing, the boy's shorts on the cover and on the dust wrapper are white. They were later corrected to blue
P. 16-17 The description of the dust wrapper and the picture of the dust wrapper are not for a first edition because they list later titles
P. 26: THE SECOND LINE OF THE COLLATION SECTION SHOULD INSERT THE WORDS "line skip":
COPYRIGHT, 1957, BY DR. SEUSS [line skip]/ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
p.58 LC card number should be 62-17157
p.59, (Dr. Seuss Sleep Book) front flap should be 295/295
p.66: last line of text, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CARD # SHOULD BE 68-28462 (not 68-28463)
p.82: DATE: ON TITLE PAGE should say 1963
p.83: SPINE: should end with B-29
p.90 FIRST PRINTING POINTS - The "variant" with the list of "other titles" on the recto of the of the rear free end paper is the 1st issue. Later issue has these "other titles" as described. You can identify the 1st issue of text without a dust jacket, but the correct dust jacket must have the points listed. (Thanks to Stan & Linda Zielinski, http://1stedition.net/blog/2007/01/horton_hears_a_who_1954.html)
p. 92: THE FIRST LINE OF THE COLLATION SECTION SHOULD INSERT THE WORDS ""half-title":
Pictorial endpapers, verso ffep blank, half-title, title page
p.98: THE 12th LINE FROM THE BOTTOM SHOULD READ: by 5-line blurb by (not 6 line blurb)
p. 112 First printings have a 7 line copyright notice omitting BASED ON MATERIAL WHICH ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN REDBOOK MAGAZINE. (Thanks to Stan & Linda Zielinski, http://1stedition.net/blog/2007/03/if_i_ran_the_zoo_1950.html)
p. 131-3 - The illustration and dw description are for state "c" of the dust wrapper. State "a" does not have the price on the rear flap.
p.144, in the 4th line of COLLATION should read 7 lines of text (not 8)
p. 153: THE 4th LINE of TITLE PAGE description, the word "simultaneously" should not have a hyphen or a slash in it.
p.158 Despite the First Printing statement on the copyright page of the 1961 edition, there was an earlier Pocket Book of Boners published July, 1941. The text for the 2 books is generally the same, but not identical and the listings are not always given in the same order in each book. The 1961 edition has 34 b&w's by Seuss (including covers which are not repeated in text) while the 1941 edition only has 22. The typeface is different so the pagination differs and the covers differ. The 1941 edition is printed on better quality paper.
p.184 line 6 of the collation - the date of 1947 should not be present. The line ends with "LTD."
p.187: THE SECOND LINE OF THE FIRST PRINTING POINTS SHOULD SAY:
The copy with the lowest number (a.) Is bound with 2 staples, later copies are bound with only one staple.
p. 198 collation, copyright page has 7 not 8 lines