We’ve been asked several times for our background regarding the legitimacy of the first edition identification points for books posted on this blog. We can’t speak from authority, only experience. So, some background info.
In all cases we own the first edition book we are posting. The photographs on the blog are from books we own.
Our collection includes 4,000 first edition children’s books, covering the period from around 1914 to 2006. We have never sold a picturebook. Close to 1,000 books were purchased from ABAA members (or from booksellers who choose to leave the ABAA). A prominent number of books were purchased from Aleph-Bet, Jo Ann Reisler, Maggie Page, Peter Glassman (Books of Wonder), Jeryl Metz, and Elaine Woodford.
Our collection focuses on Caldecott Medal and Honor books and their illustrators, Seuss books, along with other contemporary illustrators we enjoy, such as Steven Kellogg, Michael Hague, Leslie Tryon, and Lynn Munsinger. We also love the books from the early 1930’s, the years in which the picturebook form was solidifying.
We research our purchases, and when in doubt, validate first edition points from another reputable source prior to purchasing the book. We retain the mailing catalogs and pamphlets from each of the booksellers to use as reference material. We have a fairly extensive collection of the Horn Book Magazine from 1936 through 1970, which is a fantastic reference, especially for original book prices.
We have been in communication for 6 or 7 years with the prominent eBay children’s book buyers/sellers, including Cliff Erickson (To & Again Books) and Bruce Howard (Bookbid Books). Cliff is one of the most knowledgeable children’s booksellers around–remarkably he was given an acknowledgment for his contribution in both the Santi LGB guide and the Younger/Hirsch Seuss Guide. I am hoping Cliff will document first edition points for Harper’s "I Can Read’ books, which are extremely under documented in collector circles. I’m pretty sure Bruce has the largest collection of Seuss books in the world (i.e. multiple complete 1st edition sets). I recall when the stickered version of Green Eggs first came up for sale (several years before the Younger/Hirsch guide), and a bunch of us were emailing back and forth the excitement of discovering a new first state of the book. We had similar thoughts with McElligot’s Pool, with the discovery of the rear flap triangle with the $2.50 price.
My obsessions – Seuss, Beginner Books, Platt & Munk’s "Never Grow Old" series, info related to the picturebook history (original artwork from books, magazine appearances, early merchandising, etc…), and finding undocumented ‘states’. As an example, we have 38 copies of the first three states of The Cat In The Hat (there are actually four states within what is commonly known as three first states). Documented the Seuss original stories in Redbook Magazine (I believe the first time they have been collectively documented). We have over 20 copies of the Lois Lenski version of The Little Engine That Could, part of the "Never Grow Old" series; documented 14 states in this issue, published with DJ from 1930-1952, up until the lawsuit with Grosset & Dunlap. Excluding Cat/Hat, we have nearly 200 copies of the first fifty Beginner Books in DJ, to assist in documenting first edition points. Found two states of Millions of Cats with Jersey City imprint, which I believe has not yet been documented. Etc…