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Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Beautiful 1951 copy of Little Town on the Prairie boldly signed in person, with provenance

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867–1957.  American author.  Wilder’s book Little Town on the Prairie boldly signed Laura Ingalls Wilder.  With unsigned copies of Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie.

Wilder signed this copy of Little Town on the Prairie in person at the Brown Brothers Book Store in Springfield, Missouri, in November 1952.  The book contains notes on the inside flyleaf describing how young Sharon Ann White met Wilder and had her sign this book when her parents took her to the bookstore shortly before her eighth birthday and bought this book.  Tipped to the back of the back flyleaf is a newspaper photograph showing Wilder surrounded by several young girls as she signed books at the bookstore that day.  The Springfield Leader and Press reported that Wilder “was besieged by young admirers wanting her autograph when she paid a rare visit to Springfield” on that Saturday to celebrate the opening of Children’s Book Week. It noted that Wilder spent two hours at the bookstore.  Since Children’s Book Week was November 16–22, 1952, the event likely occurred on Saturday, November 15.

This cloth-bound book, published by Harper & Brothers, is the 1951 reproduction of the 1941 original illustrated by Helen Sewell, the earliest illustrator of Wilder’s books, and Mildred Boyle.  There is one color illustration plate near the front of the book, just before the title page.  Beginning in 1953, the drawings were replaced with those by Garth Williams.  

Wilder has signed this copy of Little Town on the Prairie with a large 3½” blue ballpoint signature on the half title page.  Inside the back flyleaf is a pencil listing of the titles of Wilder’s books in a child’s handwriting.  The lady who was the young Sharon Ann White will provide an affidavit stating that she is one of the children in the photograph with Wilder and that the newspaper caption that identifies her as another girl was incorrect.

The book is in very good condition.  The corners are somewhat bumped, and there is a bit of shelf wear to the green buckram cover, but the binding is tight and the pages are otherwise bright and clean.  There is no dust cover.  Were it not for the other handwriting and the tipped-in newspaper clipping, which has resulted in a stain to the inside back cover, we would say that the book would be near fine.  

The two unsigned books that accompany this one are likewise very nice.  One is  the 1951 reproduction copy of Little House in the Big Woods, and the other is the 1952 reproduction of Little House on the Prairie.  Both contain inscriptions to the owner and have slight stains, soiling, and some wear to the covers, but both are in very good condition without dust jackets.

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 one is particularly nice and deserves to be in the finest of collections.


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The three pieces:  $4,450.00


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