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The Lion Tamer
By Carroll E. Robb (1925)
First Edition, First Printing
DESCRIPTION: Every once in awhile, a book collector will randomly come across something during their adventures that turns out to be really unique and interesting from a visual standpoint, but for which almost nothing in the collective online universe is known; take for example the 1925 novel The Lion Tamer, which appears to be the first and last novel ever published by Carroll E. Robb, and which came out with little fanfare from the revered Harper & Brothers back when such companies churned out simple morality tales like these by the dozen. And make no mistake, from the standpoint of writing quality, this is nothing more than a mediocre morality tale: a melodrama about a young man in a small town who has been known for years by the nickname "Lion Tamer," because of once standing down a circus lion that had gotten loose rather than let it attack his girlfriend, this courage is suddenly called into question when there is a steamboat full of recent school graduates that crashes and sinks one night on the edge of town, with our hero Mart Bannister surviving but many of his chummy pals not. Did he really abandon his friends to save his own skin, like his shell-shocked girlfriend contends? Will he move away in shame? Or will the love of a mysterious new woman allow him to get on with his life? It's not to find out the answers to these questions that a 21st-century collector might want to own this book; it's instead for the beautiful but delicate Expressionist woodblock dust jacket, for its excellent condition despite being almost a century old, and simply for its memorable, one-of-a-kind nature. Admittedly, a volume like this is never going to be worth much to a full-time dealer; but it serves as an amazing decorative object for book lovers who wish to have a few front-facing punctuations in the library they show off to guests at dinner parties, and it is being priced today specifically to appeal to such customers. A wistful acquisition simply because of its nearly completely obscure status within the history of American literature, don't let this hard-working little book slip into complete abandon, especially because of its pristine condition relative to its super-low price.
CONDITION: Text: Very Good (VG). In great shape for its 90-year age, except for one smudge mark on the yellow fabric spine, and a few fold marks at the spine's bottom. Dust jacket: Good Minus (G-). Although it's a minor miracle that a book this old still even has its delicate dust jacket to begin with, please be aware that it's not in very good shape, with big chunks missing from the spine and the whole thing really only being held together anymore by its protective mylar cover. Contains an ink signature on the inside front cover that reads, "To Mother, from Arthur, Ellen, Roslyn and Janice, Christmas 1927." As confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, a stated "First Edition" on the copyright page, and lack of additional printing notices, makes this a true first edition, first printing.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Hyde Park Book Fair, Chicago, October 2014.