London and Glasglow: Clear-Type Press, 1904. First edition. Original red cloth, front cover pictorially stamped with a representation of a whaling ship, with the name SCUD plainly visible on the bows. The ship has three men standing in the bow waiting for a canoe with two Indians, all in dark blue, black and white. The title is in dark blue with white shadows. The spine has a picture of an Indian in blue and white, and the title is in a gold panel with the author's name in full in dark blue below. Octavo (7 1/8 x 4 3/4 inches; 181 x 121 mm.). 304 pages. Title-page printed in black without any mention of Arthur Rackham. Eight color plates (all with page numbers in lower right-hand corner). Some light pencil lining and light marginal foxing throughout, neat repair to inner margin of color-plate facing page 33, otherwise a Near Fine copy of this rather scarce little book.
Latimore and Haskell, and Riall, note that there are several bindings of this book. The one at hand seems to combine characteristics from several issues described by Latimore and Haskell. Riall mentions an earlier September 1904 issue, bound in green or pink cloth. The illustrations in the September issue have the number of the page they illustrate in the lower right-hand corner, while there are no page numbers on the plates of the December issue. Later editions have only the name "R.H. Dana" on the spine. This book has always been a bibliographic puzzle, but we are certain that this is one of the earliest printings from September 1904.
Included is a copy of a book by Captain Mayne Reid entitled The Scalp Hunters: A Romance of Northern Mexico. London and Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press, [n.d.] but ca. 1904. This book is bound in the same red cloth and has the identical design to Two Years Before the Mast on the front cover and the spine. (Item #3756)