Pearl Zane Grey (that first name was used very seldom, and his books
invariably were authored by "Zane Grey") wrote, for the most part, Western
American fiction. He also wrote books on hunting and fishing, a few
children's titles, and even a story of pearl diving in New Zealand. He
became quite popular early in his career (prior to 1910) and remains so to
this day. But that early popularity also means that most of his books are
comparatively common and therefore not particularly valuable except in very
good condition in dustjackets.
His first book was a biography of his grandmother: "Betty Zane". It was
published by Charles Francis Press in 1903 in an attractive Victorian cloth
binding, but for practical purposes was a vanity publication, and the
edition probably didn't exceed 2000 copies. A second edition was printed and
was probably no larger. Neither, it is believed, had dustjackets. A nice
first is certainly worth at least $2500 and a signed copy probably three
times that, or more. The second printing is apparently bringing several
The vast majority of his books were first published by Harper. With
several exceptions, they generally follow the Harper first edition
identification system: that is, until 1912, matching dates on title page and
copyright page; 1912-1922, a letter code corresponding to the month and year
of publication; and after 1922, a "First edition" statement but also with a
letter code. Note that one of Grey's most significant westerns, "Riders of
the Purple Sage", published in 1912, predated Harper's introduction of the
letter code in April, and therefore carries no letter code.
Although Harper is known to have been reasonably consistent in applying
their stated first edition identification rules, the Zane Grey books they
published contain a surprising number of exceptions. Seven titles published
after 1922 fail to carry the "First Edition" statement which should be found: "Roping Lions in the
Grand Canyon", "The Wolf Tracker", "Zane Grey's Book of Camps and Trails",
"Zane Grey Omnibus", "Rogue River Feud", "Captives of the Desert", and
"Stranger From the Tonto". Bill McBride's "Points of Issue" notes the letter
code which would signify the firsts of these items. McBride also lists the
letter codes on the earlier titles, which would not, in any event, have
stated first edition. However he has a mistake: "The Day of the Beast",
published in 1922 has a first edition statement, but the letter code is G-W,
not C-W. And according to one bibliographical source, "The Fugitive Trail"
carries no code and no First edition statement, an exception not noted by
Three of Grey's books were first published by companies usually identified
as reprinters. A.L. Burt published two of his early books: "The Spirit of
the Border" in 1906, and "The Last Trail" in 1909. McBride lists a series of
points on these books, but it is safe to assume a first edition if the
publisher's address (52-58 Duane Street) appears on the copyright page.
Later printings do not have this. And Grosset & Dunlap published "Red Headed
Outfield", and is identifiable by the number of Grey titles listed on the
advertising in the book (11 titles) and on the jacket (18 titles).
Grey did not sign a lot of books, so his signature has significant value.
"The Last of the Plainsmen", a biography of Buffalo Jones, is fairly
frequently found signed by both men. And Grosset & Dunlap did a signed
edition of Thunder Mountain which is reportedly fairly common.
The values of the first editions decrease precipitously after the early
1920's. Without dustjacket, very few have values over $30 or so. "Roping
Lions in the Grand Canyon" is apparently reasonably scarce and should reach
three figures for a nice copy. "Zane Grey's Book of Camps and Trails" also
is a good item. "The Zane Grey Omnibus" reprints a number of previously
published items, but was published for use in schools, and seldom shows up
in collectible condition. It is also doubtful it ever had a dustjacket, and
probably is worth several hundred dollars. This was reprinted by Grosset &
Dunlap with the title changed to "The Zane Grey Round-up", and this is
moderately collectible. Of course the fishing titles, especially signed,
have significant value.
Grey's books, especially the westerns, have been reprinted in large
numbers, most frequently by Grosset & Dunlap. These often repeat the jacket
art of the originals and nice, clean, jacketed copies have modest value,
very much in the same range as later first editions without jackets. Walter
Black of Chicago printed 75 volumes of Grey's works beginning about 1960
(one volume was a biography by Frank Gruber). In off white cloth with spine
labels in gilt, red and blue, and jacketed in plain glassine, only a few
have more than nominal value. The western titles (62 of them) were in print
for some time and show up frequently. However the last thirteen titles,
including the biography, the children's stories, and "The Reef Girl", were
in print for a short time and have surprising value: perhaps $50 to $100,
and "Wolf Tracker"(valued highly because it is so difficult to find in the
original) and "Camp Robber" (which was first published in book form in this
series) considerably more. Since the glassine was plain and therefore easily
replaced, these jackets add a comparatively small amount to the value of
these reprints (that is, small compared to the value of jackets on fiction
as a rule) although they do provide significant protection to the easily
soiled covers which are also prone to wear.
Find all available books by: Zane Grey
A Bibliographical Check List and Price Guide for the Writings of R.C.
Grey, Romer Grey and Zane Grey. Published by Country Lane Books,
Collinsville CT. It is undated but apparently circa 1988. This paperbound
book is still available from the publisher for $25, and can be ordered by
Zane Grey's West Society. This organization has a very extensive website
devoted to Grey with very significant bibliographical information. See:
Zane Grey: The Man and his Work; An Autobiographical Sketch, Critical
Appreciations & Bibliography. Harper & Brothers, New York, 1923. A nicely
produced, small leatherbound pamphlet that is collectible in it's own right,
but, with just a checklist of books published by that time, of no
Points of Issue. Published and compiled by Bill McBride. Along with his "A
Pocket Guide to Identification of First Editions" McBride's handy volumes
are invaluable. "Points" has a nearly complete enumeration of the first
edition points on Grey's books exceptions noted above). Available from the
publisher: See: www.jumpingfrog.com.
Content provided by Don Gallagher, Gallagher Collection Books.