1881. New York: D. Appleton, 1881.
8vo, 231, [viii] ads pp. Illustrations by Frederick Church and James Moser. Original red cloth stamped in gold and black, a unusually bright, near fine copy with only faint soil to the backstrip and lower board. Enclosed in a modern, custom box.
§ First edition, first issue, with presumptive mis-spelled on p.9 bottom line and without ads for this title in rear. This red color binding is not listed in BAL and is exceptionally rare. A classic of American children’s literature with a complicated legacy. Joel Chandler Harris, a white Southern journalist, collected these folktales from enslaved and formerly enslaved African Americans on Georgia plantations. Serialized in newspapers across the country, they proved hugely popular, and this first collection published by Appleton in 1881 was bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. The books were responsible for compounding racist stereotypes and disseminating them across generations of readers, as well as popularizing a false and rosy picture of the antebellum South. At the same time, Harris was the first folklorist to make a serious effort to preserve the Southern black oral traditions and his books have proved an important resource for ethnologists and contemporary African American writers seeking to reconstruct and reclaim traditional folktales.
BAL 7100. Grolier Children’s 100 #45. Grolier American 100 #83. Peter Parley to Penrod p.56. Item #122747