The first-edition collector and dealer must know the points connected with the books that they collect. These points are contained in reference books known as bibliographies. General bibliographies cover many authors or a wide field such as Americana or black literature. One of the most famous is Jacob Blanck's Bibliography of American Literature (BAL), which was finally completed with Volume 9 in 1991. BAL is the best single source for bibliographic information on American authors who published before 1920. Other general ones include Abbey – Travel; Bruccoli's First Printings of American Authors (primarily 20th Century authors); Currey – Science Fiction and Fantasy. In addition to these general bibliographies, there are specific bibliographies on individual authors. These include books written by or about the author and in many cases also list the author's appearances in magazines and anthologies, or as contributor of an introduction or preface. We have an extensive list of bibliographies for your information below. This includes most of the author bibliographies that have been published, plus reference to the authors the subject of our Author Price Guides (see separate write up), which we try to make bibliographically correct as best we can. You should understand that most of these bibliographies are out of print and in many cases scarce. So you will have to buy them in the out of print market.
We would caution the buyer of a bibliography to attempt to examine a copy of the book before purchasing it. As dealers, we maintain a large reference library of individual author bibliographies, and we must say that we're surprised at the number of "bibliographies" that, although extensive and expensive, do not assist one in identifying first editions.
In spite of the foregoing comments, we feel strongly that collectors should buy bibliographies relevant to their collections even if they are deficient in describing the first editions. We say this because we have noticed that as the "A" items (primary works) for an author continue to appreciate, there is an increased interest in the other items - for example, magazine appearances (which usually precedes book appearances); and books edited by, translated by, or with contributions by the author, such as anthology appearances (which are in many cases the first book appearance of the work). And most of these bibliographies do contain relatively complete information on these secondary items.
The standard-setter in modern bibliography, in our opinion, is Donald Gallup. In his book On Contemporary Bibliography, Mr. Gallup states:
It is the bibliographer's first duty to make his bibliography useful...
And what exactly should be his job: His function as I see it may be summarized under three principal headings:
First, to establish the canon of the author's printed work;
Second, to identify and describe first and important later editions of the books, in their variants, states, and issues, with their various bindings and dust jackets, explaining their significance where it is not readily apparent, and accounting, if possible, for any unusual aspects; and
Third, to establish for at least each major book the exact date of publication, date of composition (where this differs substantially), number of copies printed, and price at which the book sold when it was first published. He may, and doubtless will, do other things, but these seem to me to be the essentials.
There are books that are entitled "Checklists" which do not include precise information on how to identify the first printing, but these are not misleading, for they are billed as "Checklists" and not as "Bibliographies." But what do you do when you've bought a "Bibliography" and find that the bibliographer has not bothered to mention the existence of limited editions or how to identify the first editions?
OF WORKS CONSULTED
The following is a listing of individual author bibliographies, general bibliographies that include several authors, and our own Author Price Guides (which are priced bibliographic checklists and are available from us at 1137 Sugarloaf Mountain Road, Dickerson, MD 20842, or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org). We have broken this section into two areas: "General Bibliographies Consulted" and "Individual Bibliographies Consulted."
The second section ("Individual Bibliographies Consulted") is self-explanatory, except that where the author, press, or subject was included in a general bibliography, we have noted where this information may be found (e.g., under the listing for Malcolm Cowley you will find "see FPAA #4" and know that this information is in volume 4 of First Printings of American Authors). The general bibliographies we refer to the most are APG (Author Price Guides), BAL (Bibliography of American Literature), Currey (Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors ...), FPAA (First Printings of American Authors), and Johnson (American First Editions). Full bibliographic information for APG, BAL, etc. can be found in the "General Bibliographies Consulted" section.
General Bibliographies Consulted
Abbey, J. R. Travel... (2 vols.) | Scenery... | Life... San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991.
Adams, Ramon F. The Rampaging Herd. Cleveland: (Zubal, 1982).
Adams, Ramon F. Six-Guns and Saddle Leather. (Cleveland): Zubal (1982).
Ahearn, Allen and Patricia. Author Price Guides. Dickerson, Maryland: Quill & Brush, 1992-99. (APG)
Ahearn, Allen and Patricia. Collected Books: The Guide to Values. 1998 Edition. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons (1998).
(Americana). Adventures in Americana 1492-1897. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1964. Preface by Wilberforce Eames. 1,700 entries. Original in 1928.
American Book Prices Current. New York: Bancroft - Parkman, 1975-98.
Blanck, Jacob. Bibliography of American Literature. New Haven: Yale University, 1953-73. (7 volumes). 1990-91 (volumes 8 & 9 edited and completed by Michael Winship). (BAL)
Blanck, Jacob. Peter Parley to Penrod. Waltham, Mass.: Mark Press, 1974.
Bleiler, E. F. The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction. Glen Rock, N.J.: Firebell Books (1978).
Bradley, Van Allen. The Book Collector's Handbook of Values, 1982-83. New York: G. P. Putnam Sons, 1982 (VAB).
Bruccoli, Matthew J.; Clark, C. E. Frazer, Jr.; Layman, Richard; and Franklin, Benjamin V. (editors). First Printings of American Authors. 5 vols. Detroit: Gale Research, 1977-89. (FPAA)
CASANOVA Booksellers' Checklists of Twentieth Century Authors. Second Series, Milwaukee: 1933 (Richard Aldington, Martin Armstrong, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, and Christopher Morley); Third Series, Milwaukee: 1935 (Erskine Caldwell, Frank Harris, Robert Nathan, A. Edward Newton, and Gertrude Stein).
Currey, L. W. Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings... Boston: G. K. Hall (1979).
Cutler, B. D., and Stiles, Villa. Modern British Authors. New York: Greenberg Publisher (1930).
Dykes, Jeff. Western High Spots. No place: Northland Press (1977).
Fabes, Gilbert H. The First Editions of A. E. Coppard, A. P. Herbert and Charles Morgan. London: Myers & Co. (1933).
Fabes, Gilbert H. and Foyle, William A. Modern First Editions: Points and Values. The first, second and third series. London: W. & G. Foyle Limited, 1929, 1931 & 1932.
Ford, Hugh. Published in Paris... London: Garnstone Press (1975).
Franklin, Colin. The Private Presses. (Chester Springs): Dufour (Editions), (1969).
Gawsworth, John. Ten Contemporaries: Notes Toward Their Definitive Bibliography. London: Ernest Benn Ltd. (1932).
Howes, Wright. U.S.Iana (1650-1950). New York: Bowker, 1962.
Hubin, Allen J. Crime Fiction 1749-1980: A Comprehensive Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1984.
Johnson, Merle. American First Editions. Revised and Enlarged by Jacob Blanck. Waltham, Mass.: Mark Press, 1969.
Kirkpatrick, D. L., ed. Twentieth-Century Children's Writers. 2d ed. New York: St. Martin's Press (1983).
Kirkpatrick, D. L., and Vinson, James, eds. Contemporary Novelists. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press (1986).
Kunitz, Stanley J., ed. Twentieth Century Authors First Supplement: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature. New York: The H. W. Wilson Co, 1945.
Kunitz, Stanley J., and Haycraft, Howard, eds. Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature. New York: The H. W. Wilson Co., 1942.
Lepper, Gary M. A Bibliographical Introduction to Seventy-five Modern American Authors. Berkeley: Serendipity Books, 1976.
McGrath, Ann F., ed. Bookman's Price Index. (Vols. 47-51) Detroit: Gale Research (1993-1996).
Morrison, Shelley. Texana Catalogue Prices: 1994/1995. Auston: W. M. Morrison Books (1995/1996).
Morrison, Shelley. Western Americana Catalogue Prices: 1994/1995. Austin: W. M. Morrison Books (1995/1996).
Norman, Haskell F., M.D. One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine. New York: The Grolier Club, 1995.
Phillips, John C. A Bibliography of American Sporting Books: Sport-Natural History-Hunting-Dogs-Trapping-Shooting-Early American... New York: James Cummins Bookseller, 1991.
Ransom, Will. Private Presses and Their Books. New York: Bowker Co., 1929.
Rees, David. Brian Moore, Alasdair Gray, John McGahern: A Bibliography of Their First Editions. (London): Colophon Press (1991).
Rees, David. Bruce Chatwin, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes: A Bibliography of Their First Editions. (London): Colophon Press (1992).
Rees, David. Muriel Spark, William Trevor, Ian McEwan: A Bibliography of Their First Editions. (London): Colophon Press (1992).