Peterson 1934

 
Below is an "identification guide" to the four states of the 1934, 1st edition of Roger Tory Peterson's book, A Field Guide to the Birds.  In a similar vein as the older editions of the book "Birds of the West Indies" by James Bond, this book has become a collectible item amongst birders and "book birders".  Although this book was not the first field guide for the US, it was the book that redefined how the information was displayed, arranged, and communicated.  It is generally perceived to be the beginning impetus of popular birding that thrives today.
 
When one of these 1st edition books becomes available for sale, many questions are made of the seller in order to help pin down the particular "state" (aka, printing) of this first edition.  The 1st state is the rarest (only 2,000 were printed) and the most sought after version of this book.  Finding a dustjacket with the first edition (regardless of state) is very uncommon.
 
Prices vary widely, depending on the book's condition and its printing state.  The 1st state can fetch a price between $1,000 and $1,500 if in good condition (e.g., not from a library, no writings inside, pages and binding tightly attached, etc.).  For the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th states, the prices typically range between $50 and $200 if the book is in good condition.

Hopefully, the below information and images help to clarify and display the differences between the four similar states.  If you see any errors or know of additional pieces that should be added to this list, please e-mail me (Jack) at this address:
 

A Quick Key to each of the 1st Edition States:
1st: Has 1934 on the front of the Title Page and contains "Bob-pumper" on page 155, and has gray-shaded swans, egrets, ptarmigan, and various ducks.
 
2nd: Lacks 1934 on Title Page, shows "Bog-pumper" on p155, and has gray-shaded swans, egrets, ptarmigan, and various ducks.
 
3rd: Lacks 1934 on Title Page, has tissue paper with color plates, and has all-white swans, egrets, ptarmigan, and various ducks.
 
4th: Lacks tissue paper.  Instead, the names of birds from the color plates are printed on standard glossy paper.
 
 

A Field Guide to the Birds (1st edition, 1934)

Topic

1st state

2nd state

3rd state

4th state

Book's Cover Dark green with a silver-stamped Bufflehead flying to the left.
Front Title Page The copyright date "1934" is printed at the bottom of the page underneath "The Riverside Press Cambridge" No date is printed on the page.  1934 is printed only on the back (copyright) side of this page.
Printed Names of Birds for the Color Plates The birds' names are typed onto a thin tissue paper which is glued to each of the the four color plates. The birds' names are typed onto a separate glossy page of the same stock as that of the color plates.
Plate across from page 12 The American and Snowy Egrets in the bottom-left are lightly gray-shaded in the body and wing with a contrasting white stripe in the back and neck.
The Little Blue Heron is entirely light gray.
The American and Snowy Egrets in the bottom-left are clear white in the neck, body, and wings with light gray only on the outer perimter of the body.
The Little Blue Heron  is clear white with light gray only on the outer perimter of the body.
Plate across from page 18 The Whistling  Swan in the bottom-right has a neck that is nearly  entirely light gray-shaded that continues in a thin line that connects to the eye, unlike the all-white neck of the adjacent Mute Swan. The Whistling  Swan in the bottom-right has a neck that is completely white and is identical in color to the adjacent Mute Swan.
Plate across from page 26 Shoveler's back is gray in contrast to the white belly; Baldpate's light wing-patches are gray with a white leading edge; American Merganser's side in front of the wing has a gray patch. Shoveler's back matches the white of the belly; Baldpate's light wing-patches are all white; American Merganser's is all white in the lower neck and side in front of the wing.
Plate across from page 30 Male Bufflehead's left side and the light patch in the left wing are light gray in contrast to the white head. Male Bufflehead's left side and the light patch in the left wing are white, matching the head.
Plate across from page 48 The primaries and secondaries of both Willow Ptarmigan are light gray, contrasting with the white of the bird's back and the lead edge of the wing.
The head of the winter plumage Willow Ptarmigan is light gray, which contrasts with the white neck and body.
The tips of the tail in the summer plumaged Willow Ptarmigan are solid black.
The primaries and secondaries of both Willow Ptarmigan are white and match the head, back, and remainder of the wings.
The head of the winter plumage Willow Ptarmigan is white, matching the white neck and body.
The tips of the tail in the summer plumaged Willow Ptarmigan have white spots.
Index p.155 A typo displays "Bob-pumper" instead of the correct "Bog-pumper". "Bog-pumper" replaces the incorrect "Bob-pumper"
Other Notes 2,000 copies printed April 1934 3,000+ copies printed printed as early as 1936  
 

 
Dustjacket (all 4 states the same)
       
 
         

Title Page with 1934 versus...          without the 1934 date
            
 

Bob-pumper versus...                 Bog-pumper in states 2, 3 & 4
  

Egrets (page 12)                         Whistling Swan (page 18)          Various Ducks (page 26)
 
       
 
 
Bufflehead (page 30)                   Willow Ptarmigan (page 48)
 
    

Tissue Paper versus...                              standard paper

 
 END