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Louisa May Alcott: A Checklist of First Editions

Kevin MacDonnell

For further information and bibliographical details on the books in this checklist, consult The Bibliography of American Literature (familiarly known as BAL), Volume One; Carroll Wilson’s Thirteen Author Collections of the Nineteenth Century, Volume One; and The Parkman Dexter Howe Library, Part Ten. BAL’s information on edition sizes for Alcott’s books is often in error; correct edition sizes, where known, have been supplied here. Price ranges provided reflect the market for copies in very good to fine condition.

MARGARET LYON

Boston: Crosby, Nichols & Co., 1854.

 

Issued from magazine plates. Very rare.

 

$5,000+

 

 

FLOWER FABLES

Boston: George W. Briggs & Co., 1855.

 

Alcott’s first regularly published book was issued in an edition of 1,600 copies in five colors of cloth (red, blue, slate-blue, green and brown) in a “gift” style binding with extra gilt on the spine and a gilt vignette at the center of the cover. This has given rise to a persistent myth that the book was issued in a regular binding and a gift binding. Rebacked and repaired copies bring 50 percent of the prices cited below.

 

$1,000-$2,500

 

 

HOSPITAL SKETCHES

Boston: James Redpath, Publisher, 1863.

 

Printed green boards. Second printing was issued in green or purple cloth.

 

First printing, in boards, $600-$800

Second printing, in cloth, $300-$600

 

 

THE ROSE FAMILY: A FAIRY TALE

Boston: James Redpath, Publisher, 1864.

 

Issued in printed wrappers, salmon-coated on white and pink-coated on white.

 

$2,000+

ON PICKET DUTY, AND OTHER TALES

Boston: James Redpath, Publisher [1864].

 

Issued in green printed wrappers.

 

$2,000+

 

 

MOODS

Boston: Loring, Publisher, 1865.

 

Issued in black cloth. Some copies have a slip of paper with copyright notice pasted to the verso of the title page. Loring reissued Moods after 1870 with a double frontispiece and a title page stating “Author of ‘Little Women,’ ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl,’ ‘Hospital Sketches’” beneath Alcott’s name. This reprint is frequently misrepresented as the first edition, and should be valued at $75 to $100.

 

$300-$600

 

 

NELLY’S HOSPITAL

[Boston, 1865].

 

Self-wrappers. Very rare.

 

$3,000+

 

 

V. V.: OR, PLOTS AND COUNTERPLOTS

Boston: Thomes & Talbot [1870 or later, but listed here because it gives the appearance of being an 1865 publication].

 

Written under the pseudonym A. M. Branard. Blue printed wrappers. Very rare.

 

$3,000+

 

 

THE FOUNDLING

Boston: Elliott, Thomes & Talbot [1867].

 

Written under the pseudonym Perley Parker. Printed wrappers. Very rare.

 

$5,000+

 

 

THE MYSTERIOUS KEY, AND WHAT IT OPENED

Boston: Elliott, Thomes & Talbot [1867].

 

Blue wrappers, printed in blue. Issued with various imprints on the front wrapper, including Thomas W. Timpson, New York; The American News Co.; and A. Williams & Co., Boston.

 

$2,000+

 

 

MORNING-GLORIES, AND OTHER STORIES

Boston: Horace B. Fuller, 1868.

 

Issued in purple, terra cotta, blue, green and dark purple-brown cloth. A reputed 1867 edition from G. W. Carleton & Co. of New York contains half the material of the Boston edition and is a late reprint, ca. 1875.

 

$1,500+

 

 

KITTY’S CLASS DAY

Boston: Loring, Publisher [1868].

 

Printed pale buff wrappers. Copyright notice in name of A. K. Loring, printed on a slip of paper and pasted over imprint of Rockwell & Rollins. Wrapper exists in two states: “LORING’S TALES OF THE DAY. KITTY’S CLASS DAY”; and “LORING’S Tales of the Day. KITTY’S CLASS-DAY.”

 

$2,000+

 

 

AUNT KIPP

Boston: Loring, Publisher [1868].

 

Printed pale buff wrappers.

 

$2,000+

 

 

PSYCHE’S ART

Boston: Loring, Publisher [1868].

 

Printed pale buff wrappers.

 

$2,000+

 

 

LOUISA M. ALCOTT’S PROVERB STORIES

Boston: Loring, Publisher [1868].

 

Printed wrappers. At head of title: “Loring’s Tales of the Day.” Collects Kitty’s Class Day, Psyche’s Art, and Aunt Kipp. This scarce book should not be confused with Three Proverb Stories, which is a reprint issued in cloth in 1870 or later. It is often misrepresented as the first edition, and should be valued at $75-$125.

$2,000+

 

 

LITTLE WOMEN OR, MEG, JO, BETH AND AMY

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1868.

 

2,000 printed; 250 sets of sheets shipped to England for issue by Sampson, Low. Issued in purple, green, and terra cotta cloth. In the past, various “points” in the text and binding have been presented as evidence of the “first issue,” but is has now been demonstrated that all of those supposed textual and binding points also exist in several 1869 reprintings. All copies dated 1868 are the first printing. But it should be noted that copies with forged 1868 title-pages exist. Also, copies are sometimes found recased in later bindings, so collectors should exercise extreme caution.

 

$15,000-$20,000

 

 

LITTLE WOMEN OR, MEG, JO, BETH AND AMY, PART SECOND

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1869.

 

2,000 printed. Issued in green, purple and terra cotta cloth. At least five different textual states exist for the first edition, of which BAL describes four. BAL should be consulted for details.

 

$1,000-$2,500

 

 

CIPHER: A ROMANCE

New York: Sheldon & Company, 1869.

 

Issued in brown and purple cloth, and in buff printed wrappers. Written by Jane G. Austin, who thanks Alcott in her preface for her help, but it is unclear exactly what Alcott’s role was in the writing of this  novel.

 

$150-$300

 

 

HOSPITAL SKETCHES AND CAMP AND FIRESIDE STORIES

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1869.

 

3,000 printed. Issued in green and purple cloth. Contains material reprinted from Hospital Sketches (1863), along with eight stories, including On Picket Duty and Other Tales (1864).

 

$100-$300

 

 

AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1870.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in green, purple and terra cotta cloth. First printing has no ads on copyright page. Second printing, first state has ads on copyright page and textual error at 159.17 (“incensed at at”). Second printing, second state has ads on copyright page and textual error corrected.

 

$150-$350

 

 

WILL’S WONDER BOOK

Boston: Horace B. Fuller [1870].

 

Issued in green coth. The first edition is rare, but there were several reprints by various publishers (these are valued at $250-$750); see BAL for details.

 

$3,000+

 

 

LITTLE MEN: LIFE AT PLUMFIELD WITH JO’S BOYS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1871.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in green, purple and terra cotta cloth.

 

$300-$500

 

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: MY BOYS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in green, blue, and old rose cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: SHAWL-STRAPS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in green, orange, and blue cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

WORK: A STORY OF EXPERIENCE

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in green, purple and terra cotta cloth.

 

$200-$350

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: CUPID AND CHOW-CHOW

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1874.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in green, blue, and salmon cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

EIGHT COUSINS: OR, THE AUNT-HILL

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1875.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in blue cloth.

 

$200-$300

 

 

 

SILVER PITCHERS: AND INDEPENDENCE, A CENTENNIAL LOVE STORY

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1876.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in terra cotta, green and red cloth.

 

$200-$400

 

 

 

ROSE IN BLOOM. A SEQUEL TO “EIGHT COUSINS”

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1876.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in green, blue and red cloth. First printing contains the error “With Illustrations” on the title page (the book contains only one illustration). No copy seen with this error intact. The second state has the “s” erased by hand, and in the third state (actually the second printing), the caption is printed correctly.

 

$200-$400

 

 

A MODERN MEPHISTOPHELES

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877.

 

3,000 printed. Published anonymously; No Name Series at head of title. Issued in black cloth; pale buff endpapers imprinted with publisher’s advertisements.

 

$250-$300

 

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: MY GIRLS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1878.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in green, orange and blue cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

UNDER THE LILACS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1878.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in green, blue and terra cotta cloth.

 

$200-$300

 

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: JIMMY’S CRUISE IN THE PINAFORE

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1879.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in green, blue and red cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

LITTLE WOMEN: OR MEG, JO, BETH, AND AMY

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880.

 

A new edition with nearly 200 illustrations by Frank T. Merrill; 586 pages.

 

$200-$300

 

 

JACK AND JILL: A VILLAGE STORY

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in blue-green and red cloth.

 

First edition, $150-$300

 

 

MOODS: A NOVEL

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1882.

 

359 pages. First revised edition.

 

$75-$125

 

 

AUNT JO’S SCRAP-BAG: AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1882.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in blue, green and brown cloth.

 

$150-$300

 

 

SPINNING-WHEEL STORIES

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884.

 

3,000 printed. Issued in terra cotta cloth.

 

$150-$350

 

 

LULU’S LIBRARY: A CHRISTMAS DREAM

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1886.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in red, blue and mustard cloth.

 

$75-$150

 

 

JO’S BOYS, AND HOW THEY TURNED OUT. A SEQUEL TO “LITTLE MEN”

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1886.

 

10,000 printed. Issued in brown and green cloth. First state bulks 1 1/16 inches; second state bulks 1 inch.

 

$100-$200

 

 

LULU’S LIBRARY: THE FROST KING

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1887.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in red, blue and mustard cloth. Content is primarily a reprint of Flower Fables.

 

First edition, $75-$150

 

 

A GARLAND FOR GIRLS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888.

 

3,000 printed. Issued in terra cotta and green cloth.

 

$100-$200

 

 

Posthumous Publications

 

A MODERN MEPHISTOPHELES AND A WHISPER IN THE DARK

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1889.

 

2,000 printed. Issued in blue and mustard cloth.

 

$150-$200

 

 

LULU’S LIBRARY: RECOLLECTIONS

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1889.

 

2,500 printed. Issued in red, blue and mustard cloth.

 

$75-$100

 

 

Also of Interest

 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT. HER LIFE, LETTERS, AND JOURNALS

edited by Ednah D. Cheney

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1889.

 

Issued in green and brown cloth.

 

$75-$150

 

 

COMIC TRAGEDIES WRITTEN BY “JO” AND “MEG” AND ACTED BY THE “LITTLE WOMEN”

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1893.

 

5,000 printed. Issued in mustard, brown and peacock blue cloth.

 

$75-$150

 

 

Special Note

 

Eleven stories from Lulu’s Library and A Garland for Girls were printed in their first separate editions in attractive pictorial cloth bindings between 1899 and 1904 by Little, Brown and Company of Boston. They are avidly collected, and generally sell for $75-$150 without dust jackets. When found in the scarce original dust jackets, they can bring as much as $600. The titles are: A Hole in the Wall [1899], Marjorie’s Three Gifts [1899], May Flowers [1899], The Candy Country [1900], Poppies and Wheat [1900], A Christmas Dream [1901], Little Button Rose [1901], The Doll’s Journey [1902], Pansies and Water-Lilies [1902], Mountain-Laurel and Maidenhair [1903], and Morning-Glories and Queen Aster [1904].


****This was originally published in First magazine in December 2004; it has been reprinted with permission of the author and publication.

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