Alcoholics Anonymous Book First Edition (1939)Go Back
Winning Bid: $6,655.00
Winning Bid: $6,655.00
Auction ends: August 15, 2020 10:20 PM
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Presented is the very first hardcover edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous book (1939). It was well preserved over the years protected by a sturdy red outer box cover with detailing and a dust jacket with its own plastic cover. The pages of the book are all intact with the binding showing moderate wear from use.
It was the Spring of 1939, AA in their infancy and the future was in doubt. AA Pioneers were broke and struggling to find sufficient financial backing to publish the book Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point it was decided that AA would publish the book themselves through their newly established Works Publishing Inc. Their new publishing company has been selling stock certificates as a means to raise money for the printing of the book. The problem they ran into was that the money they were raising was being spent on daily living and office expenses. The book almost didn’t happen! It took a series of fortunate breaks through works of good faith from several different people.
A printer in Cornwall, NY, named Edward Blackwell, had been highly recommended to Bill Wilson. Blackwell was the President of Cornwall Press. So Bill and Hank Parkhurst(“The Unbeliever” story in the First Edition) went to Cornwall to see Blackwell. There they were told that the book would probably be only about four hundred pages when printed. That seemed a bit skimpy.
They wanted to sell the book for $3.50 per copy. That was a very large sum in those days, probably the equivalent of about $50 today, and people might not think they were getting their money’s worth. They picked the cheapest, thickest paper the printer had, and requested that each page be printed with unusually large margins surrounding the text. This made for an unusually large book. Thus, the book came to be nicknamed the “Big Book.” (The First Printing is bigger and thicker than the current one.)
Blackwell agreed to print 5,000 copies of the First printing for a down payment of $500 and on good faith he trusted that Bill and Hank would pay the remainder of the costs once they made some sales of the book.
Note the text of the first page of the First Printing, you will notice the large margins around the text and that Page 1 is the first page of the Doctor’s Opinion (The Doctor’s Opinion is now in the Roman Numeral section at the front of the big book and Page 1 is now the beginning of Bill’s Story).
Overall, a great addition to any book collectors shelf as the legacy of the program it provides continues to help people into the modern era.