Jeez. You hang around long enough, cycles pass, and if you’re lucky your once new stuff is ready for rediscovery.
Anyway, that’s my thinking after Evan Lewis selected my series of Hammett tour books for a Forgotten Books Friday post. Apparently, Evan picked up the 1982 edition during the Bouchercon I chaired that year, but even then didn’t know about the true first edition in red side-stapled wraps from 1979. I usually describe that one as “little” and “ratty,” as in “the ratty little first edition,” but what the hell, it was the first edition, and for collectors who go for that angle, you’ve got to have it.
Evan is correct that it doesn’t come on the market very often, at least not to my knowledge. Most recent one that I recall is the copy inscribed to my buddy Steve Eng, which wasn’t selling for a lot of loot, but on the other hand was among the many other books in Steve’s library which got drowned in a flood, and may not have been in primo condition.
If you want it, keep an eye out and you may get lucky — like the guy I met years ago who found an inscribed first edition copy of Hammett’s Red Harvest for a dollar at a garage sale. Patience. Vigilance. Luck.
Evan was just in Frisco for a visit, and has been rereading Hammett — see his posts about the Bette Davis Maltese Falcon and the Thin Man TV show, he’s getting back into action on that hard-boiled groove.
Plus he’s finally getting around to reading Charles Willeford. Looks like he’s going to go book-by-book, in order. A major aesthetic experience for anyone who enjoys the hard-boiled and the absurd. And for first edition collectors, Willeford really provides some fun.