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    The Exceedingly Scarce First Edition, First Issue
    of Frank Triplett's Controversial Biography
    of Jesse James

    [Jesse James, subject]. Frank Triplett. The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of Jesse James. The Only Correct and Authorized Edition... The Facts and Incidents contained in this Volume, were Dictated to Frank Triplett , by Mrs. Jesse James [Wife of the Bandit] and Mrs. Zerelda Samuel [His Mother]. St. Louis: J. H. Chambers & Co., 1882. First edition, first issue (with frontispiece of James returning from a raid, and illustration of his "Flight After Wrecking a Train" on the verso of the title-page.) Copyright notice is missing (according to Howes, this notice is supposed to be on the reverse of the frontispiece, but this one is blank). Octavo. xvi, [17]-416 pages. With twenty-seven engraved plates inserted throughout, including frontispiece (frontispiece is cut a bit smaller than the other pages and is on slightly thinner paper, but appears to be of the same vintage as the rest of the book and not a facsimile). Publisher's full green cloth, front board decoratively stamped in gilt and black, spine decoratively stamped in gilt. Spine dull, binding worn with some soiling, hinges cracking (yet still solid), text overopened in a few places, some minor intermittent soiling in text. The J. P. Jones copy, with his bookplate on the front pastedown, and his ownership signature ("J. P. Jones/Huntington/Aug. 1st, Ind") on the front free endpaper. Skewed. Still, a very good copy of an exceedingly rare book in better condition than one would expect ("The few copies in existence are usually in poor condition." - Adams). Howes states: "It is alleged that efforts were made to suppress this biography. The scarcity of all issues tend to confirm this." Housed in quarter morocco slipcase.
    The tortuous history of this book is nearly as colorful as its subject. Although the title-page states that James' wife and mother both contributed to this book, both women denied that they participated in this book in the strongest terms possible (even going to the extent of suing the publisher; the publisher ran an ad in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offering to show anyone the contract and letters between them and Mrs. James.) Furthermore, there is a chapter of this book which boldly accuses then-Governor Thomas Crittenden of Missouri of conspiring with Robert Ford in the cold-blooded murder of Jesse James (Crittenden had authorized a $5,000 reward for the capture of the James Brothers, dead or alive - after Ford was convicted for James' murder, Crittenden pardoned him). Crittenden was unaware of this book's inflammatory claim for several months after publication; when he found out, he destroyed every copy he could find. To top it off, Frank James objected to this book, because it accused him of immoral conduct.
    Howes T355a. Adams, Six Guns and Saddle Leather, 2245. From The San Clemente Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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