THE UPPER TEN: A NOVEL OF THE SNOBOCRACY. New York: National Book Company, [1890]. Octavo, pp. [3-13] 14-225 [226: blank] [note: text complete despite gap in pagination] [note: title page is a cancel], numerous illustrations in the text by H. Clay Coultaus, original red cloth with white shelf-back, spine stamped in black, t.e.g. First edition, hardbound issue. First published by the United States Book Company in the same year as a subscription series paperback ("American Novelists Series," number 54), both of these companies being controlled by John Lovell in his ill-fated attempt to corner the American market for cheap fiction. This copy is a bind-up of first edition sheets with a cancel title page. The title is an allusion to "The Upper 400," the presumed aristocracy of New York City. Here the inner circle is reduced to ten. "The present novel, as the author makes clear in a rather tendentious preface, is indebted to no one and certainly not 'that great imaginator,' Jules Verne, to whom his work had apparently been compared. Ballou boasts of the sound engineering of his creations (including an airplane that can safely fly through a hurricane), unlike Verne's. His imaginings here include an advanced submarine which, while laying telephone cable, discovers an underwater race of mermaids (all quite soundly engineered by the look of the illustrations). The book serves up a mixed grille of such fancies together with social protest and sentimental poems inserted between chapters. The eclecticism of the work is of a piece with its author, who was of a certain American type common for this period: the inventor of both machines and religions, an enthusiast of homeopathy and natural parks, and a writer who dwelt in the shadowy world of subscription paperbacks, all quite rare today. The illustrations are quite expertly done." - Robert Eldridge. Not in Bleiler (1948; 1978) or Reginald (1979; 1992) or Day, Supplemental Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Mild darkening and dust-soling of cloth, most noticeably on spine, a sound, very good copy. A very scarce book. (#147768).

Price: $450.00

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