The Arabian Nights Book Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish ReissuedBy

The Arabian Nights Book Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish Reissued

The Maxfield Parrish illustrated book The Arabian Nights, Their Best Known Tales was reissued by Charles Scribner's Sons publishing in 1993. First printed in1909 by Scribner's, original copies sell for $150-$250; the new reprints retailed for $25.

The 1993 edition is the fourth time Scribner's has printed the book. The first edition was published in 1909 with later editions in 1937 and 1947. All the Arabian Nights illustrations by Parrish originally ran as color prints in Colliers magazine. Scribner's later bought the book rights to them.

Most authors writing about Parrish collectibles discuss Parrish's book illustrations but not the books themselves. As a result, not much information has been available about sizes and physical features of the original books. We'll begin with the general appearance of the books, then discuss the illustrations.

Cover: 1993 hardbound in blue cloth; title stamped in gold, on spine and front cover; ISBN# stamped on back cover; sold in full color paper dust jacket. 1909 & 1937 hardbound in blue cloth, has full color paper illustration applied to front cover, title stamped in gold on spine. 1947 hardbound in reddish brown cloth. Title and illustration both stamped in maroon and tan on cover, light tan/brown printing on spine.

Size: The books are nearly all the same size, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4" overall, pages about 7 x 9".

General: The 1909 & 1937 editions have illustrated cover papers (the paper lining inside front and back covers); the 1947 edition has white paper; the 1993 has plain brown paper. The earlier editions have a color frontispiece (introductory page) with the copyright date (although for some reason this seems to vary). A frontispiece is also included in the 1993 edition but without a copyright date in the box.

Illustrations: All illustrations in all editions including the 1993 are in full color and printed on glossy paper. Image size is also the same in all editions including the 1993 measuring 5 1/4" wide by 6 1/2". The 1909 and 1937 editions have 12 illustrations; the 1937 has 9 illustrations; the new 1993 edition has 12. For all practical purposes, the new illustrations appear virtually the same as old illustrations to the unaided eye. There is a substantial difference, however, in the way illustrations appear under long wave black light.

New 1993 illustrations fluoresce light purple with white speckles in a very pronounced marbleized or texture-like appearance. The pattern shows up in the white margins on the front side of the print and over the entire back side of the print. This effect is easily seen with small hand held lights as well as more professional models. The new paper continued to react strongly even when put under 1/4" thick plate glass. This means you should be able to get an accurate reading through ordinary picture frame glass if a new illustration is already framed.

Older editions show no or very slight reaction to black light. White margins of illustrations in the 1909 and 1937 editions remain very nearly white under black light or have a very slight purple cast (which is a typical reflection off white paper). The 1937 edition has a smooth, very even slight purple cast too.

If the new books are left intact, there are enough differences that makes it easy to tell old from new. The problems will probably come from people removing the illustrations to sell separately.

1937 edition loaned courtesy of Richard Perry, author Maxfield Parrish Identification & Price Guide.

Quick--find the copyright...


Fig. 1

Once their paper dust jackets are removed, there is no printed statement in the new books that says "reprint" or "reissue". Ordinarily the copyright date would be the easiest and quickest way to date a book. Not so with this one. In the publisher's statement above, the first dates to appear are those of earlier editions. You have to go to the very last line at the bottom to find the current date which appears in the second group of numbers from the left, 1993. And that appears without the word copyright or other indication that is in fact, a date.

Other clues to the recent manufacture are the zip and postal codes in the publisher's addresses, the word "photocopying" in the rights statement (photocopiers didn't exist in 1909 or 1937) and the ISBN numbers.


Fig. 2 (1993)


Fig. 3 (1937 & 1909)


Fig. 4 (1947)

Figs. 2-4 The 1993 front cover has the title stamped in gold on dark blue cloth, Fig. 2. The 1909 and 1937 covers have a full color illustration printed on paper applied on top of a dark blue cloth, Fig. 3. The 1947 edition has an illustration and the title stamped on reddish brown cloth, Fig. 4.


Fig. 5 Illustrated frontispiece; close ups shown below.


Fig. 6


Fig. 7

Figs. 5-7 The old frontispiece in Fig. 5 has the copyright date in the box at bottom, closeup Fig. 6. The new 1993 books have the same frontispiece but no copyright date in the box, close up Fig 7.


Fig. 8 Illustration inside front and back covers from 1909 & 1937 books. Missing in 1947 and 1993 editions.


Fig. 9 Closeup of spines. From left to right: 1993, 1937, 1947