Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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"Just about the best horse story every written"
-Dorothy Canfield Fisher

72. JAMES, Will (pseudonym for Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault). Smoky the Cowhorse.  New York & London:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926. xi [3] 310 pp., 46 illustrations (many full page) by Will James.  8vo, original green cloth, lettered in black and with illustration of horse in red on upper cover. In pictorial jacket printed in red and black, with James illustration on upper panel and portrait of James (by Burt Sharkey) on rear panel.  Light shelf wear and minor browning to endpapers, text block slightly cracked at pp. 18-19, otherwise the book is fine.  Jacket with some light soiling and wear, spine a bit dark, slightly chipped at spine extremities, but with only minor losses to blank areas.  With the book are four 1926 issues of Scribner’s Magazine in which four chapters from the book first appeared (Vol. LXXIX, Nos. 4-6, Vol. LXXX, No. 1); no more excerpts were published before the book appeared in print.  All issues in fine condition except for minor spine chipping, minor tape repairs, and some slight water damage resulting in a few leaves adhering in LXXIX, No. 4. Scribner’s issues housed in green slipcase with color reproduction of a James illustration.

      First edition of author’s first novel, first issue, first state d.j.  According to Frazier, the first book printing has 1926 at the bottom of the title page and only three lines of printing on the copyright page, as here. Dobie, p. 108. Dykes, Fifty Great Western Illustrators (Dufault/James), p. 99 (#6).  Frazier, The Will James Books, p. 16:  "Smoky is a novel about a western cowhorse and mostly from that horse’s own point of view... Smoky was certainly one of the very best of Will James' 24 books and the first printing of the first edition sold out before the ink was dry.  In 1927 Smoky won the prestigious Newbery Medal.  This accolade is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Smoky has been read by both young and old from its first airing in Scribner’s Magazine in April of 1926 right on up to these present days over 70 years later.  A First edition, first printing Smoky is a rare bird; if in a first-state dust jacket, a treasure indeed....  Smoky came out in book form in September of 1926 and was reprinted nine more times in 1926 alone.... There have been too many reprints to reasonably count, certainly more than 40.”  Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, p. 20. 5 vols. ($2,000-3,000)

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