Living in the past?

I’m still living in the long-ago past when book collectors were interested in not just primary first editions, but also enjoyed secondary items related to their favorite authors.  I’ve always loved these ephemeral items.  In fact, when I first went in to business in 1980, I didn’t have the resources to stockpile massive collections of first editions.  I could afford to buy some, but I mostly pursued secondary items because I loved them, and because I could afford them.  And, back then, there was a decent market for them.  Collectors had not yet dropped their interest in broad collecting in favor of collecting only high spots.

One such item is The Apostate by Jack London, noted as a parable of child labor.  Its first separate printing was by The Appeal to Reason in Girard, Kansas in 1906 as a smallish pamphlet, cited in The Bibliography of American Literature as BAL 11897.  It is an expose of drudgery and exploitation of children in America’s factories and mills.

Front cover

Front cover

My dictionary defines apostate as one who forsakes his church, cause, party, etc., but perhaps London meant the definition for apostasy, being the total desertion or departure from one’s principles.

The front cover of The Apostate has a note from the publisher noting that London had relinquished his royalty rights to this story to The Appeal to Reason as a contribution from him to the Socialist movement.

The story was first published in the September 1906 issue of “Woman’s Home Companion,” but this edition from The Appeal to Reason is its first separate printing.  It was later included in London’s When God Laughs & Other Stories which Macmillan published in 1911.

This separate printing is unaccountably scarce.  I can find only one copy on-line.  Is it a must-have for London collectors?  Maybe not, probably not, especially in the case of more narrow-minded collectors, but if your book collecting interests expand beyond just the obvious high spots, I think it is worthy of pursuit.


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