01 March, 2016

The House at Pooh Corner

BY A.A. Milne
Book Information1/1/0/UK/MU/1928/o.75,000  •  197x135x17  •  366

Here is the first edition copy of "The House at Pooh Corner", published in 1928 by Methuen and A.A. Milne's second (or fourth, depending on one's counting preference) and final book of Winnie the Pooh, the well-loved anthropomorphic teddy bear that him and E.H. Shepard, the illustrator, created.  Written for his son, Christopher Robin Milne, Pooh first appeared as Mr Edward Bear in Milne's 1924 best selling poetry collection, "When We Were Very Young", and finally adopt his current name in the 1926 story collection, "Winnie-the-Pooh". Pooh was the personification of Christopher's teddy bear named Winnie after its namesake - a Canadian black bear also christened Winnie because, apparently, it originated from Winnipeg - who Christopher often visited at the London Zoo. The addition of "Pooh" was attributed to a swan - whose name was, well, Pooh - that the father and son encountered whilst on one holiday, although Milne provided an auditory imagery to justify this inclusion in the book: apparently Pooh's arms were so stiff they cannot reach his nose, and whenever a fly landed on Pooh's nose he had to blow it off, thus "pooh" the sound. Another interesting point is that the name was originally hyphened by Milnes but this was drop by Disney after it acquired the franchise. Also, the small red tee that Pooh now wears was added later.

Milne then published another verse collection in 1927, "Now We Are Six", in which Pooh was also featured before ending it all with the final book - this one - "The House at Pooh Corner" published in 1928. All the first editions were published by Methuen in London. This final book introduced Tigger but it is the ending,in its quaint Frostian charm, that is particularly memorable : Christopher was rumoured to be leaving, and Eeyore wrote a poem about it that Pooh took to Christopher. They then had a conversation of what they like doing best. Pooh made two astute and philosophical comments, the first on his love for the hours before the hour, and the second on what it means to be faithful even at the risk of being forgotten. Christopher was clearly coming of age with a boy's will to do "nothing". He was ready to venture into the world unknown, whose vastness he should steal away. He knew he was losing the callow innocence and yet he was reluctant to put Pooh and all his friends at the Hundred Acres Forest behind. As he began the metamorphosis, Christopher wistfully sought assurance of his place in this childhood haven by imploring Pooh to never forget him, even though he wasn't sure if he would ever return again. That's Christopher's lament, and Pooh's as well, but Pooh was probably too simple minded to appreciate that.

It's beautiful, and now I have to hunt down the other three preceding Pooh first editions. Bother!

This is the first edition first printing copy with a first state dust jacket showing the correct price of "7/6 NET" on the spine (I believe it means 7 shillings 6 pence, or 37.5 pence in today's UK currency system. Before 1971, 12 pences made one shilling and 20 shillings made one pound). The  dust jacket constitutes a huge premium and it is important to identify the first state dust jacket. The identification point is on the back flap, where "179th Thousand" should be indicated below "When We Were Very Young". Dust jackets with a number greater than 179 are later states (I've seen 189th's advertised as first state). The book is bound in salmon-pink clothed board with gilt on spin and gilt framed illustration of Christopher, Pooh, and Piglet on the front board, and the top edge is gilt. The copyright page should state "First Published in 1928"  with no additional printings.

This book is somewhat rare and a VG copy with a first state dust jacket can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks at $1,000 and above. A VG first edition copy without dust jacket sells for $350 upwards. Note that some sellers advertise a first edition book and with later state dust jacket and pass it off as first edition. The true first edition should have the first state dust jacket. The 75,000 first printing size refers to the trade edition, likely inclusive of the leather variant as well, and is based on the catalogue information from Sotheby's (see last pic).

This is a VG+ copy with a VG dust jacket that suffers from minor chippings at spine top and crease edges, four closed tears, and very mild sunning on spine. The book is NF with bright gilt on board and top edge, tight in binding, and no internal marking but for a short pencil notation.

There are three other versions of this first edition. Along with this standard trade edition sold at 7/6, there is a deluxe leather version sold at 10/6 that comes in a box and glassine cover but no dust jacket. This now sells for $1,000 to $2,500 depending on condition and whether the original box and glassine are present. Then there are two versions of the signed limited editions. The more common one is a 350-copy version, issued with different dust jacket and binding, that were numbered and signed by both Milne and Shepard. A VG copy without dust jacket sells for $3,500 upwards, and the dust jacket adds premium of $1,000 upwards depending on condition. The less common one is a 20-copy deluxe signed edition on Japanese vellum. This is extremely rare is will likely sell upwards of $10,000.




















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