Friday, February 18, 2011

And the Blue Ribbon for Book Sleuthing Goes to...

The Robert Benchley Society was contacted by someone who wrote:
I seem to have got taken for a bit of a ride in a recent eBay auction. I have been upgrading and filling in my RB volumes, and took a chance on what purported to be a first edition of "Pluck and Luck." The seller omitted to mention that it was a Blue Ribbon edition, merely stating (nay, trumpeting) in the auction that it was "Copyright 1925 by Henry Holt and Company."

Fortunately, I paid for it about what it was worth (the price of a night out for my wife and myself at Denny's)--and I already had a Blue Ribbon edition in better shape. My question for you is this: was the first edition of "Pluck and Luck" in fact issued under the Henry Holt imprint on the title page and the spine? It's a hard enough book to find even as a "Blue Ribbon," and it does indeed say "Copyright 1925 by Henry Holt and Company." So, I don't know whether to feel completely defrauded or just mildly disappointed.

I'm putting this baby back up on eBay with its proper Blue Ribbon designation. There's enough pain in this world without me adding to it.

To which we responded:
We're also sorry to hear you got a Blue Ribbon reprint instead of the genuine first.
Benchley's first five books were published by Holt, the rest by Harpers. Anything that is Blue Ribbon is a reprint from the 1930s or 1940s.

The 1925 edition of "Pluck and Luck" was bound in orange boards with the Henry Holt imprint on the title page and spine and a Gluyas Williams cartoon stamped on the front board. It says "Reprinted in the USA" at the bottom of the copyright page. Any Benchley book with "Benchley" in the title is a collection of previously published essays.

Recently a couple of the RBS officers met for tea at the Boston Athenaeum (a private library) and while there we checked out the Athenaeum's copy of Pluck and Luck. It is casebound in orange cloth. The Cover says "PLUCK and LUCK" above a Williams illustration with "by Robert Benchley" below the illustration. The spine has "PLUCK and LUCK" "Benchley" "HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY." Inside it says: Copyright, 1925, by Henry Holt and Company, reprinted in the United States of America.

No comments:

Robert Benchley Society

For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website