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Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak

1963

 

As is noted in Joyce Hanrahan's "Works of Maurice Sendak", a first edition, first printing of this title is identified by the blurbs on the front and rear dust jacket flaps and an original pricing of $3.50. When the title was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963, the books were pulled from the shelves and the jackets were replaced with those that reflecting the award on the back dust jacket flap and housed the Caldecott Medal sticker to the front. So we know the story regarding the dust jackets, but what about the boards?

Currently, it is understood that the first edition boards of Where the Wild Things Are needs to have the extended copyright information that includes the Library of Congress catalogue number. If the book itself has the LC number on the title page, then the assumption has been that it is a first print.

I have now completed some research that suggests that there were two printings of the book that had identical first state jackets as well as having the LC number. More importantly, there is a way to distinguish between the two.

Both the front of the book and the jacket have an illustration that is framed by a white border on top and bottom. The jacket, both first state and later state, consistently have the top white border a little larger than the bottom border. Copies measure approximately 1 5/8" on the top and 1 3/8" on the bottom. Simply, the top border is about 20% wider than the bottom border. When the boards are examined, all the later state copies match these jacket measurements.

However, there is a group of books with first state jackets that do not conform to this ratio. In these instances, the borders are almost equal. I believe that the difference resulted from an initial printing error, corrected in all later print runs. With all later copies having the borders with a top border ~20% larger, it would be logical to assume that the mistake was done on the first run and corrected thereafter. Since there are some boards with first state jackets having both equal borders and some with the wider top border, it is also logical to assume that there must have been two print runs using the LC numbers, with the second print correcting the printing error.  It has been mentioned that Harper and Row printed 150,000 sheets (folded and gathered) and stored.  These are assumed to be the LOC sheets.  The boards however, were printed separately when needed and bound to the sheets from storage.  It is assumed that the first set of boards had the borders of equal width, accounting for the two states with the LOC information.

Even if less likely, it is of course possible that this mistake was made between print runs, or even corrected during the first print run. However, if one accepts the logic of an initial mistake being corrected in later prints, then the points for a true first state jacket remain the same, but the points for the book itself include not only the LC number, but white borders that are nearly equal in width.

 

 First Printing Identifiers:

• Boards have border ratio of ~1:1 (later states had top border 20% larger)

• Published by Harper & Row

• Library of Congress copyright statement

• Correct DJ flap configurations with no mention of 1963 Caldecott Medal

• $3.50

 


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