First Edition Points and Criteria for The Grapes of Wrath

Year Published: 1939
Author Last Name: Steinbeck
Author First Name: John
Publisher: Viking
Original Price: $2.75
Pages: 619

First printings have a single statement on the copyright page that says "FIRST PUBLISHED IN APRIL 1939" with no statement of subsequent printings.

The first printing was large - estimated between 20,000 and 50,000. But demand is high on this highly collectible book. Also the Dust Jacket is unique to the first edition (it states "FIRST EDITION"), so it is less abundant than the book.

The advance issue was identical to the first trade edition with the exception that it was accompanied by a publisher's card which was produced on glossy heavy paper, and measures 8" tall by 5" wide.  It features the reproduction of a contemporary painting of the author by Stjernstrom. The card notes: JOHN STEINBECK whose new novel, THE GRAPES OF WRATH is published by The Viking Press."  This same photo painting reproduction was also utilized as the frontispiece portrait of John Steinbeck for NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE critic Lewis Gannett's publication JOHN STEINBECK: PERSONAL AND BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES, published in stapled wrappers by Viking Press also in 1939.

The Grapes of Wrath won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This book is also one of Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels. Other Time 100 Novels include Gone with the Wind and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Picture of the 1939 first edition dust jacket for The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of the 1939 first edition dust jacket for The Grapes of Wrath.

First printings have a single statement on the copyright page that says "FIRST PUBLISHED
First printings have a single statement on the copyright page that says "FIRST PUBLISHED IN APRIL 1939". It must have no other statements below it.

Picture of dust jacket where original $2.75 price is found for The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of dust jacket where original $2.75 price is found for The Grapes of Wrath.

Picture of the back dust jacket for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of the back dust jacket for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath.

Picture of the first edition Viking boards for The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of the first edition Viking boards for The Grapes of Wrath.

Picture of the back dust jacket flap for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of the back dust jacket flap for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath.

Picture of the first edition title page for The Grapes of Wrath.
Picture of the first edition title page for The Grapes of Wrath.

The advance issue was identical to the first trade edition with the exception that it was
The advance issue was identical to the first trade edition with the exception that it was accompanied by this publisher's card. The card was produced on glossy heavy paper, and measures 8" tall by 5" wide. It features the reproduction of a contemporary painting of the author by Stjernstrom. The card notes: JOHN STEINBECK whose new novel, THE GRAPES OF WRATH is published by The Viking Press.

This is from an eleventh printing.  We included it here for an illustration of when
This is from an eleventh printing. We included it here for an illustration of when various printings were made. Notice that there is a "second printing before publication" and "third printing before publication". It just means that the publishers decided to print more books before the actual date of publication. There is nothing particularly special about these printings - the most desirable one is still the first printing.

This is the front flap of an 11th printing dust jacket.  It has reviews on the front
This is the front flap of an 11th printing dust jacket. It has reviews on the front flap, and states that that this jacket is somewhere north of over 430,000 impressions. Beware of first printing books that are married later dust jackets such as this one. If this is disclosed and priced according, we see nothing wrong with the practice. We would rather see a book in some kind of jacket that none at all.



Other first edition points for books by John Steinbeck include: Of Mice And Men, The Pearl, Sweet Thursday, East of Eden, The Wayward Bus, Cannery Row, The Moon is Down, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Short Reign of Pippin IV, Tortilla Flat, The Long Valley.

\"Of \"The \"Sweet \"East \"The \"Cannery \"The \"The \"The \"Tortilla \"The 

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Disclaimer: This website is intended to help guide you and give you insight into what to look for when identifying first editions. The information is compiled from the experience of reputable collectors and dealers in the industry. Gathering and updating information about these books is more an art than a science, and new identication criteria and points of issue are sometimes discovered that may contradict currently accepted identification points. This means that the information presented here may not always be 100% accurate.