30 May, 2015

West-Running Brook

BY Robert Frost
Book Information1/1/0/US/HH/1928/o.1,000 of 9,400  •  225x150x18  •  295

This is the first edition of Robert Frost's West-Running Brook published in 1928 by Henry Holt. There is a separate signed limited edition totaling 980 copies that is the second edition. This is also the last of Frost's main publication where the first edition is not the signed limited edition. Like New Hampshire, there are four woodcut by J. J. Lankes. 9,400 first edition copies were printed on 19 November 1928 and each sold for $2.50.


The definitive first edition point is the copyright page, where it should read "Copyright, 1928" with no mention of additional printing. However, there is a twist to the story. There are two states of this first edition, and the precedence is still unclear. In the presumed first state, there is no mention of "First Edition" on the copyright page that is present in the presumed second state. The accepted theory now is that of the 9,400 first edition copies (first and second states combined), 8,400 first state copies were printed with "First Edition" inadvertently omitted. This oversight was subsequently rectified in the final 1,000 copies. We need to bear in mind that there is really no way to ascertain which came first today: the states are merely speculative and convenient labels, and the presumed second state copies could well have been printed first. Based on my own empirical search on ebay and abebooks over a 3-month period, the presumed second state is definitely rarer.

This is the first trade edition first printing second state with first state dust jacket that is unclipped although there is no indication of price, which is consistent with Crane's description. The later state dust jacket has a solid six-point star - instead of the outlined five-point star on the first state jacket - and a price of $2.50 on the front flap. The book is bound in grey-green board with dark green clothed at spine with gilt lettering, and has light green topstain. The copyright page of the presumed second state should state "First Edition".

This book is getting increasingly rare and a VG copy of the first state can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks for $200 onwards. The second state copies are even rarer. This is a VG+ first printing copy with a VG+ dust jacket with chipping at spine top, minor rubbings and closed tears, and a NF book that is tight and clean.

The only official signed edition is the 980-copy limited signed edition. There are many association or signed copies of this trade edition, and some are priced as high as a few thousand dollars, some with very bad dust jacket. Robert Frost has a signature that is relatively easy to forge, so caveat emptor. If you really want a signed copy, go for the official signed edition for about $500.



This is the first edition dust jacket that is increasing rare, which is expected considering its age (now 87 years old) and the rather poor quality paper it is printed on. There is a later state dust jacket with a six-point rather than five-point star and the red rules that run only on the front to spine of the dust jacket but not the back.


These are the front and back flaps. Note that there is no mention of price.

What we are see here is the inside of the dust jacket. You can see the chain lines, which is also a point for the first edition dust jacket. But what I want to show here are really three common flaws for dust jackets. The first is a "closed tear" on the right compared with the second, a "chipping" at the top of the spine on the right. The difference between a closed tear and a chipping is material (paper) loss - the former has no loss and the latter has. The third flaw is the tape residual, a consequence of poor repair on the closed tear using non-archival tape. Despite these flaws, this dust jacket still falls in the "Very Good" grading.

The book is in dark gray-green paper-covered board with dark green linen cloth, and a gold paper label set in a panel stamped on the front cover.

The spine of the book is in gilt, which is especially fine for this copy. An interesting point is the unconventional bottom-to-top letter orientation.

The copyright page is vital for identifying the first edition and its presumed state. First edition should have "Copyright, 1928" printed with no mention of additional printing. What we have here is the presumed second but rarer state with "First Edition" printed. The presumed first but more common state does not have "First Edition" printed.

The full title page and one of Lanke's woodcut as frontispiece on the verso. This woodcut is also printed on  the gold paper label on the front book board.

First content page.

Second content page and first sub-title page.

First poem of the book on page 5.

The last page.

The top edge of the paper is stained light green.





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