Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alice in Wonderland Sandpiper Book - Fact or Fantasy?

When I first began collecting Disneyana in the late 1980s, I purchased the fantastic set of TOMART reference books. When I made the decision to collect only Alice in Wonderland items, I scoured the entire 4 volume set, and the condensed edition.

This is when I first encountered mention of the Alice in Wonderland Sandpiper book. TOMART volume 4 lists it as B5547 - Alice in Wonderland (1951) Sandpiper. But, even though TOMART illustrates the Donald Duck Sandpiper book (B5546), it does not illustrate the Alice one. Thus began my quest for the Sandpiper book.

Over the years I gathered more reference material, including the original Campaign Book, which has a small section on Simon and Schuster books, but does not list the Sandpiper Book. Yet I was not deterred.

I eventually found the Donald Duck book, but without its dust jacket, which is understandably harder to find, as it was a children's book. Then I encountered this Lone Ranger book with dust jacket, and I discovered that there were 10 Sandpiper books, of which Alice was number S10.

Now I had fairly substantial evidence that the book did exist. After all, I reasoned, they would not have printed up all these dust jackets advertising books that did not exist. Plus the book that I found was number S9, surely they would not have stopped the series one book from the end.

As the years rolled by, I encountered 6 of the 10 books, and at least one dealer who claimed he had an entire set of 10. I pestered that guy literally for years to at least give me a photo of the book, to no avail. And there the trail ended, nearly 20 years ago. Until last week.

Last week I acquired a large lot of original Simon and Schuster Golden Book catalogs, including the Spring and Fall 1951 issues. I had seen a copy of the Spring '51 catalog previously on ebay, but failed to win it. But last week, the group of catalogs arrived and imagine my surprise when I opened the Spring '51 to pages 6 and 7 and saw a double page spread all about the new series of Sandpiper books.

Now we're talking. The cover of the Alice book, at last! I must admit, I was feeling pretty good about it, since I recognized 6 of the 10 covers pictured.

And yet, the previous 20 years of looking for this book tempered my elation. I started perusing the remaining catalogs, starting with the Fall '51 issue.

And on page 14 is another full page featuring the Sandpiper books . But wait, something's different.

There are now only 6 Sandpiper books listed, the same 6 books that I have seen over the past 20 years of searching. And no mention whatsoever of the other 4 books pictured in the Spring catalog, a mere 6 months prior. They didn't even renumber the remaining books, just removed them leaving holes in the sequence.

The back cover, as on the Spring '51 catalog, contains a checklist, and there is Sandpiper book section, with only 6 books listed.

So, I must conclude, after years of searching, that the Alice Sandpiper book probably does not exist. I cannot be sure of course, but all the evidence now seems to point this way. It is hard to believe that after 20 years I would not have at least SEEN a copy of a mass-produced book by the publishers of Little Golden Books.

If anyone does have a copy, I would of course be MOST anxious to see it.

UPDATE: I have just received additional anecdotal evidence to support my theory on the non-existence of the Alice Sandpiper book. I just received a copy of Steve Santi's excellent Golden Book reference guide, 5th edition.

In it he pictures the same six books that are in the Fall '51 catalog. In the text he states that S6 and S8 were probably never printed, lists a author and illustrator for S5, but only lists Walt Disney Studios as illustrator/author of Alice (S10).

While this could be taken either way, I'm still inclined to interpret this as further evidence Alice not being published.


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Super investigative work, my favorite kind. I would think that the mystery "4" never got published. I bet there were prototype samples somewhere, but who knows now. If I ever see it you'd be the firs to know. Thanks for all the cool info.

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