On Finding a First Printing of All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

I recently found a first printing of All the King's Men (1946) at a local haunt for $1.29. I had to try not to act all insanely excited when I placed it on the counter by the cash register, irrational paranoia flushing my face and rushing through my veins whispering the cashier might know it's real value and snatch it away from me at the last second, demanding I pay up pronto, Pal, it's true value or ... or never be let inside the basement-bargain store again!

Thankfully, such a sickening scenario did not come to fruition.  But, unfortunately for me, the dust jacket (as you can see above) has seen better days -- nowhere remotely close to mint or near-mint condition -- and it's got those dratted library stickers that leave that godawful residue I can never completely eradicate no matter how persistently and thoroughly I try rubbing it off, and glued-on library checkout card inside also, both of which are automatic value-terminators (or value-termites!), munching away the book's monetary worth in huge chomps, but still, it's a wonderful starter first edition, if I may say so myself.

Abe Book's listings has it going between $20 (for a copy like mine), all the way up to $9,500 for a signed, mint condition copy.  Dream on, Freeque, dream on.

I love the cover artwork -- worth the buck twenty-nine I spent alone -- regardless of the book's meager resale value.


  1. WANT! I love that book so much. What haunt, LOL :-)
    Lorem Ipsum books in Cambridge is notorious for finds like that but you'd probably pay $7.00 there- not so bargain-tastic, LOL.

  2. Ha! There's this thrift store not more than a mile away where I regularly find ridiculously under priced gems, not quite as routinely nice as this one, but over the years I've grabbed first printings or older editions of the likes of Under the Volcano, Dr. Zhivago, Giles Goat Boy, and so many others that escape remembrance right now. Thankfully, the pricers there are obviously not book people, and may they forever remain non-book people!

  3. EF, if you haven't already I strongly recommend checking out Demco.com or another library supply store for a variety pack of archival dust jacket covers. It'll run you about $25 but it's worth it to protect your cherished books!

  4. I will check that out. Thanks, Marie. The ones I grab usually have that Brodart on them already, but I've got several that don't that could use that protection.

  5. Gorgeous find. Have you tried a cotton ball lightly moistened with rubbing alcohol for removing residue? It might not work that well with library paste, but does work well with most other stickies. Also does a nice job at cleaning up fingerprints and scuff marks.


    PS I love the cover, too.

  6. Hey I really like that cover. Do you know who was the illustrator behind it? Thanks a lot!

  7. Thanks. I'm afraid I don't know who illustrated All the King's Men. I've spent some time researching it to no avail.


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