First edition of The Life of a Book Agent: An Autobiography, by Annie Nelles.
Octavo, x,  – 385pp, [6 blank]. Publisher’s original pebbled green cloth, title in gilt on spine. Brown endpapers, light foxing to endsheets, fold through front endpaper and flyleaf. Wear to both hinges, rubbing to cloth at tips and along spine. Ownership inscription and notation in pencil, stating: “Millie Sanders Book. Purchased of The Author. August 1869. Price $2.25.” A complete copy with frontispiece and three full-page illustrations. (Sabin 52304) A scarce work, with only one copy appearing at auction in the last 35 years.
This scarce work is one of the earliest accounts of an itinerant bookseller in the United States. After two unsuccessful marriages, Annie Nelles Dumond (1837 – 1903) traveled the Midwest selling books by subscription. This first edition was followed by numerous other printings in the 19th century, each of which alters the details of her life, with some characters disappearing and reappearing. Many consider this autobiography to be part-fiction, but it is confirmed that the book was authored by Annie Nelles Dumond. It was followed by a sequel in 1881, titled Happy at Last, or A Sequel to The Life of a Book Agent. (“The ‘Unbelievable’ Odyssey of Annie Nelles Dumond” – James L. Murphy, OGS Quarterly, vol. 50, issue 4, 2010).