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Laura Ingalls Wilder

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1952 copy of Farmer Boy, chronicling a year in the childhood of Almanzo Wilder,

with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s signature tipped in

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867–1957.  American author.  Wilder’s book Farmer Boy with her signature, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

This is a nice alternative to a signed copy of Farmer Boy.  Wilder’s signature on a small piece of paper has been tipped to the front free endpaper.

Farmer Boy, Wilder’s second book, was first published in 1933, the year after her first book, Little House in the Big Woods.  While Little House in the Big Woods begins the story of the childhood of Laura Ingalls, Farmer Boy tells of the childhood of her future husband, Almanzo Wilder (1857–1949), on a farm near Malone, New York, just south of the Canadian border.  Farmer Boy is set in 1866–1867 and spans about a year just before Almanzo’s tenth birthday and shortly before Laura’s birth.

Laura met Almanzo at De Smet, South Dakota, where she lived with her parents after her father took a job with the railroad, and where Almazo had moved to homestead land after migrating from New York to Minnesota. Almanzo was 25 years years old and she was 15 when they began their courtship.  They were married in De Smet in 1885.

This cloth-bound book, published by Harper & Brothers, is the 1952 reproduction of the 1933 original illustrated by Helen Sewell, the earliest illustrator of Wilder’s books.  There is one color illustration plate near the front of the book.  Beginning in 1953, the drawings were replaced with those by Garth Williams.  

Wilder’s Little House books are timeless and enduring.  Wilder wrote of late 19th Century pioneer life in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Altogether there were nine Little House books, which she wrote about 50 miles from us at the Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri:  Little House in the Big Woods (1932); Farmer Boy (1933); Little House on the Prairie (1935); On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937); By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939); The Long Winter (1940); Little Town on the Prairie (1941); These Happy Golden Years (1943); and, published posthumously, The First Four Years (1971). 

The series is as popular today as it was three generations ago.  The books have remained in continuous publication since the appearance of Little House in the Big Woods and have been translated into more than 40 languages.  Most of the sites that Wilder described in the books are now museums that annually draw thousands of visitors.

The cloth cover of this book is is worn, which shows how frequently the book was read.  Inside the pages are generally clean, although the front free endpaper on which Wilder’s signature appears has some toning and stains, we see a couple of light marks in the margin on one page, and a vertical tear in the upper left corner of the title page has been repaired.  A child has written his name at the bottom of the last page and has made a mark on the inside of the back cover.  There is a 1½” separation at the bottom of the inside of the front cover, but overall the binding is tight. 

Wilder’s large signature, in gray fountain pen, is 3¾” long. The paper on which she has signed is a tad bit rippled, but the signature is in fine condition.

We have offered more signed copies of Wilder’s Little House books than anyone else, to our knowledge, and in our experience true signed copies of her books are rare and expensive in any condition.  This book, with her signature tipped in, is a nice alternative to a true signed copy of Farmer Boy.


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