THE SCOTT GREENBAUM COLLECTION OF LITERARY FIRST EDITIONS
Hammett's favorite work, in the rare jacket
The Glass Key, 1931
HAMMETT, Dashiell (1894-1961). The Glass Key. London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931.
First edition in the scarce original dust jacket. The London printing of The Glass Key appeared on 20 January 1931, preceding New York's by just over three months. Shortly after The Glass Key was published, Knopf shuttered their London office and transferred the British publishing rights for Hammett and others to Cassell & Co. Hammett expert Mark Sutcliffe estimates that of the 3000 sets of sheets printed from the first impression, roughly 1000 copies were bound by Knopf before the turnover: the remainder of the sheets were then issued in a Cassell binding. The rare dust jacket, which features an image of the main character, gambler and racketeer Ned Beaumont, was created for the cover of the March 1930 issue of Black Mask where the story first appeared in four serial installments. According to ABPC, the last first edition in dust jacket of The Glass Key sold in 2005 (Swann Galleries, 14 April 2005, lot 368, $60,000). The Glass Key was reportedly Hammett's favorite of his own works, but he was not the only one who felt that way; its reach can be seen from Raymond Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder" all the way to the Coen Brother's 1990 film Miller's Crossing. Layman. A4.1.
Octavo. Publisher's royal blue cloth with white key ornament on front and spine (minor foxing to text block); dust jacket (a little light soiling, expert restoration to spine affecting two words of title and one word on lower panel, small repaired chip to blank area of upper panel).