First Editions Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

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First edition copies of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel in dust jacket don’t surface too often, so it is surprising two copies are currently on the market for sale. Both books are being offered for over $5,000. The Virginia Lee Burton children’s classic was initially published in 1939 by Houghton Mifflin.

The first editions are being offered from two of the heavyweights in the collectible children’s book space, Jo Ann Reisler and Aleph-Bet. The two ABAA booksellers are at the top of the children’s book food chain, each with decades of bookselling experience.

Prices for the first editions of the hard-to-find picturebook classics has crept up since the $22,000 paid for the first edition Curious George at Pacific Book Auction in 2007. At that same auction, a first edition of Virginia Lee Burton’s Caldecott Medal winning The Little House sold for over $9,700, which provides some semblance of a comparative. The two Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovels are not in as good condition as either the PBA’s Curious George or The Little House.

Bookseller: Jo Ann Reisler, Ltd. (Vienna, VA, U.S.A.).
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel; Burton, Virginia Lee.
Price: US$ 5500.00

Book Description: Dust Wrapper. First Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1939. First edition. Oblong, 4to. Wheat cloth with black & red illustration and lettering on cover; a clean copy of the book. Color pictorial dust wrapper with some light marginal chipping; a half inch corner chip; and some light soiling to edges of wrapper. But! It has its wrapper. Internally, every page is a design delight. Burton was able to integrate text and illustration, both color and black & white, to capture the tone of the story in a very effective manner. Her books were some of the favorites for Kim and me in those wonderful reading times before bedtime. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, were great reading and I remember the story and pictures fondly. This is a classic of 20th century children’s books and the fact that it features a battle between a steam shovel and the new world of diesel diggers is a nice advance look at all that has happened in down-sizing, etc. Great book. First Edition. Bookseller Inventory # 8400072

Here is the Aleph-Bet listing:

Bookseller: Aleph-Bet Books, Inc. – ABAA (Pound Ridge, NY, U.S.A.)
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel; Burton, Virginia Lee.<
Price: US$ 5,225.00

Book Description: 1939., 1939. BURTON,VIRGINIA LEE. MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL. Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1939 (1939). Oblong 4to (9 1/2 x 8 1/2"), pictorial cloth, Fine in a VG price clipped dust wrapper that has restoration at spine ends (no loss of printing), and on bottom edge and with some small edge tears mended. Housed in a custom cloth box. 1st edition of this classic, featuring great color illustrations by the author to accompany the wonderful story of an Irish steam shovel operator and his beloved steam shovel Mary Anne. 1st editions of this title in dust wrapper are truly rare. Bookseller Inventory # 15491