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The Hobbit-1938 Houghton Mifflin-Ex Libris-Unusual Cover
Just popping in
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2013/9/10 10:15
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Hi,

I've joined this site because it seem to be the most knowledgeable about my question topic. I'll be as brief and concise as I can.
In cleaning out my fathers house I've discovered -and in this case REdiscovered- a lot of old books we've had in the family. We like our books and never throw them away and rarely sell them (which is a problem sometimes).
In one of the boxes that contained stuff from my "tween" years (am 45 now), I found a copy of The Hobbit that I bought at one of my grade schools annual book sale (part of the Mayfair, I think it was). I had read it earlier that year, and when I saw it was in the sale bin I bought it. It ended up in a box and that box eventually made its way to a closet and there it sat. I don't remember even seeing this book (or the other stuff in the box) since before high school, so it was a real memory rush when I opened it a few weeks ago.
Now, because of mine and my families appreciation for literature, books and such (my father is a writer), I work in a Rare Books library at a university. I'm not actually a librarian, but a photographer, and my job involves making high resolution copies of rare books and manuscripts. But it has given me at least a peripheral knowledge of rare books, and access to people who are very knowledgeable in the field (it's a well regarded ivy-league university).
So when I took this volume out of the box I saw it in a very different way than I did when I was 12. I checked the title page and copyright and knew right away it was an early printing. So I put my skills to work and started researching this volume. The primary source I used was Wikipedia's page on Early American Editions of The Hobbit, which is very well written and helpful. I started checking points regarding the first Houghton Mifflin printing in 1938 against my copy. So, disregarding the cover for a moment....*endpapers? no endpapers which is disappointing but not surprising. *4 color illustrations? yes. *Full title page with bowing Hobbit? yes *Page 118 showing chapter VI (two chap. 6s)? yes * Clean unbroken type on the pages/lines listed? yes, clean type *funny ink stain on page 237? yes
But the cover, the cover! The cover is yellowish-tan cloth binding with a tight weave, and text in dark blue...but I have not seen this cover layout anywhere else. I have looked at a lot of images but just can't find it anywhere. I can't even find a similar title/author typeset on the cover. The spine (will post more photos) shows the bowing Hobbit in the same black ink that the elf is in on the cover. The elf image doesn't appear to have been added later.
I've brought it to the conservation department, and we had a good time looking it over and talking about it. The general consensus is that the text block was rebound at some point, and general repairs were made. A color illustration seems to have been rebound into a different page location, (Bilbo awake with the sun in his eyes...) and there were two tape repairs. The book itself is in poor to fair condition.....there are library markings, and many little tears. One page is detached but still present (I'll probably get a conservator to repair it so it doesn't get lost), and it's very well used.
This was the school's second copy -it's noted inside as "copy 2", and was well read by countless middle school boys and girls from when it was purchased (probably new, the school was founded in 1923 and I suspect they purchased two copies in 1938), and when I bought it in 1980 or 81.
The conservators and I looked at the cover, and along with the printed books curator we searched all our online resources and couldn't find a version of this cover either in image or description. But because of it's wear, and the fact that many of the cover traits match the original descriptions (yellow-tan, dark blue text), we're very confident this is the original cover on the original boards, and that the text block was removed, repaired, and reinserted. There is a bookbinders stamp on the inside of the front cover reading "Savidge and Kimmel Bookbinders, Philadelphia", which is near where I live and the school. My online research only shows a bare mention of Savidege and Kimmel in the 1950s. The 1950s would fit in with when the volume would probably need some work, if it was purchased in 1938 and popular.
I'm very very confident that this is a first US edition, first state, and everything inside the volume backs that up. But the cover is a fun mystery, and I'd like to know if you've seen anything like this. I've read and learned that library bindings can be different than market bindings, and I'm thinking this is the case. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll reply to myself and post another few pics.
Thanks for your help.

Posted on: 2013/9/13 8:08


Re: The Hobbit-1938 Houghton Mifflin-Ex Libris-Unusual Cover
Just popping in
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Didn't attach the pic, still learning this board gui. I don't usually post in forums so please excuse any ignorant errors.

Attach file:



jpg  L1140016_sm.jpg (370.86 KB)
1975_52332d5682902.jpg 945X1262 px

Posted on: 2013/9/13 8:11


Re: The Hobbit-1938 Houghton Mifflin-Ex Libris-Unusual Cover
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OK, will resize the image, sorry for the big pic. Here's the spine. Title page next and then will stop posting. I have other pics of the inside.

Attach file:



jpg  L1140017_sm.jpg (202.43 KB)
1975_52332ba1087fd.jpg 885X1291 px

Posted on: 2013/9/13 8:15


Re: The Hobbit-1938 Houghton Mifflin-Ex Libris-Unusual Cover
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Even smaller. Can/should I resize the other pics? Sorry if I'm posting too large....

Attach file:



jpg  L1140005_sm.jpg (246.54 KB)
1975_52332c938237d.jpg 1416X945 px

Posted on: 2013/9/13 8:17


Re: The Hobbit-1938 Houghton Mifflin-Ex Libris-Unusual Cover
Thain
Joined:
2006/5/26 20:36
From California, USA
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Thain
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Thanks for joining, and for sharing your find satago!

This does appear to be a first impression US based on your pictures and description. It does look like a rebinding to me. I seem to recall seeing similar bindings, but I will have to take some time digging through my archives to see if I can find them.

Welcome, again!

PS I fixed the CSS to make images display more nicely in the forums. I also have simplifying the forum post GUI on my todo list as well.

Posted on: 2013/9/13 11:35
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