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THE MALTESE FALCON; [Broadside prospectus]

THE MALTESE FALCON; [Broadside prospectus]

THE MALTESE FALCON; [Broadside prospectus] - 1984

by Hammett, Dashiell

  • Used
  • first


[San Franciso]: North Point Press, circa 1984. First edition. 18.75 x 24.75" broadside poster advertising the availability of the trade edition issued from the Arion Press limited edition (published the previous year). Both editions were illustrated with period photographs of sites in the novel. The poster prominently features a film-noirish black-and-white photo of San Francisco's Stockton Street Tunnel -- outside of which is where Sam Spade first sees his murdered partner, Miles Archer. There's also a quote painting the scene from the book printed beneath the photo. Near fine with touch of faint soiling and few tiny edge creases. Scarce.
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About this book

The Maltese Falcon, author Dashiell Hammett’s third novel, set the standard by which all subsequent detective fiction would be judged. Set in San Francisco in the late 1920s, the novel introduces us to private detective Sam Spade, who characterizes the archetype of the hard-boiled detective in his dead-pan pursuit of the recovery of a black figurine. Having worked for a time for the Pinkerton Detective Agency in San Francisco, Hammett reportedly drew upon his years as a detective in creating Spade and many of the other characters for The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon was originally serialized in HL Mencken’s “pulp” magazine, Black Mask, beginning with the September 1929 issue. For publication of the book form, editor Blanche Knopf tried to tone down the overt sexuality of the magazine version, fearing the references would alienate readers, but Hammett prevailed. However, the 1941 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor (the best known of the novel’s three film versions) excised the homosexual subtext of the novel due to Production Code restraints. Today, the movie is considered a film noir classic and the novel is ranked 56th on Modern Library’s “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century as well as 54th on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best novels.


First Edition Identification

Originally published in serial form in the magazine Black Mask, it was published in book form by Alfred A. Knopf in New York in 1930. Bound in grey cloth, the book is perhaps more well-known for its iconic yellow dust-jacket, with its deco typeface and stark image of a perched falcon. As is the custom for Alfred Knopf from this period, the first edition is recognizable by the absence of any statement of printing on the copyright page. The first state dust jacket has an advertisement on the rear panel for Hammett's other novels, priced at $2.00. 

One of the most desirable of all modern first editions, the Maltese Falcon can fetch upwards of $100,000 in a pristine first state jacket, and easily five figures in a second state jacket.