Alice As Phantom?

[Update: For the latest and greatest discoveries about the illustrated Alice superceding everything here, see The Ultimate Truth About the Illustrated Alice.]

The Illustrated "Alice" is a fairly scare Modern Library volume. On September 24, 2000, a copy sold on eBay for $431.00; on February 5, 2001, another eBay copy brought $667.00; and on May 27 2003 a copy with a defective acetate (half of "Alice" was missing) eBayed out at $536.00. As absurd as it seems, in mid-october 2005 somebody paid a preposterous $1250 for one with a chipped acetate, again on eBay. While the October 2005 purchase was way out of line by any standard, Alice is still a pricey acquisition

The one you see here is owned by Sam Gottlieb of Camelback Books in Scottsdale AZ. He paid $15.00 for it in 1996.

This variation showed up on September 18 2007; it's the only one reported. The label is the same as the one on the Random House gift set, leading to speculation that the label was used when ML ran out of the original cover illustrated sheets.

But evidence is mounting that Alice wasn't in the ML distribution list.

Sam Gottlieb presents a very strong case that the book never became a production item at all. He points that there is no mention of it any of the Modern Library catalogs.

The illustrateds were listed in catalogs published by the company from late 1943 (click here to see the earliest listings) through 1948.

As Sam points out, it would make no sense from a marketing perspective for Modern Library/Random House to publish a potentially best-selling piece and not include it in its catalogs.

Toledano says that the book, published in 1947 with illustrations by Tenneil and Kredel, was meant to be in the illustrated series but instead became a Book-Of-The-Month Club dividend.

And if it never made the distribution list but was in fact just a "trial balloon" item, why was it rejected by the ML board?

For another slant on this issue plus some details of Alice's history, see Gordon Neavill's article How Scarce is The Alice Anyway?


Here's one with its glassine intact. It was purchased in 1998 for $40.00 by Robin Harrison from Seattle. (You gotta hate these people!) It came in the box shown right.

Guide author Henry Toledano thinks that the box was made privately for the occasion and didn't come out of Random House.

(Click here to see another example of "privately printed" Modern Library editions.)



This black-and-white fax of an Alice with a miscut slanty text acetate was sent by Paul Collinge of Heartwood Books in Charlottesville, Virginia. He found it buried in a large lot he purchased at an estate sale. (Notice the "illustrated" and "Library" running off the edge.)

But no matter where you find yours—and there evidently are a good number to be found, given the relative frequency of its appearance in such venues as eBay—a jacketed Alice will be a great addition to your collection.