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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Bannerman Little Black Sambo

The Story of Little Black Sambo is, if not one of the most controversial books ever published, certainly one of the most controversial children’s books of all time. The story itself is innocuous: Sambo, a South Indian boy, encounters four tigers who extort his new clothes from him in exchange for not eating him. The tigers chase each other around, claiming to be the best dressed of the bunch, until they reduce themselves down to clarified butter which Sambo’s mother uses to make pancakes. The Story of Little Black Sambo is controversial due to Helen Bannerman’s use of inaccurate invented names for Sambo and his parents, who are called Black Mumbo and Black Jumbo, the racist illustrations that feature in many early editions, and the use of the name “Sambo” as a slur against black people.

The Story of Little Black Sambo has been republished many times. The very first editions, illustrated by the author, are quite valuable, with the very first edition (Grant Richards: London, 1899) valued between $1,500 and $15,000 depending on the condition. Reprints of the edition Bannerman illustrated generally sell for under $1,000.

Another possibility for collectors is a 1942 edition illustrated by Ethel Hays and published by Saalfield Publishing Company of Akron, Ohio. These can be difficult to find but generally sell for $300 to $800, depending upon condition and provenence.

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Grant Richards: London (1899). Illustrated by Edmund Evans

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Grant Richards: London (1901). Fifth edition

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Reilly and Britton Co.: Chicago (1905). 2nd U.S. edition; Introduction by L. Frank Baum

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of the Teasing Monkey. Frederick A. Stokes Company: New York (1907).

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. The Reilly and Lee Co.: Chicago (1908). Illustrated by John Neill

Bannerman, Helen. All About Little Black Sambo. Cupples and Leon Company: New York (1917).

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Saalfield Publishing Co.: Akron, OH (1928). Illustrated by Florence White Williams

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Henry Altemus: Philadelphia, PA (1930). Illustrated by Frank Ver Beck

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Harter Publishing Company: Cleveland, OH (1931). Illustrated by Fern Bisel Peat; Introduction by George C. Harvey

Bannerman, Helen. The Little Black Sambo Magic Drawing Book. Platt and Munk: New York (1932). Connect-the-Dot Edition

Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Albert Whitman and Co.: Chicago (1939). Illustrated by Cobb X. Shinn

Bannerman, Helen. Little Black Sambo. E. P. Dutton and Co, Inc.: New York (1943). Illustrated by Julian Wehr

Bannerman, Helen. Little Black Sambo: A Little Golden Book. Simon and Schuster: New York (1948). Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

Bannerman, Helen. Little Black Sambo. Duenwald Printing Corporation (1949). Illustrated by Julian Wehr