Very Good. Item #000825
Bellingham: Privately Printed [Union Printing Company], 1933 . "Five Hundred Copies of this Private Edition Have Been Printed." Octavo; 422p, including summary index.
Slate cloth with gray lettering on spine and front panel, where it appears as part of a painted faux inset-panel illustration. Ornamental gray speckling on all textblock edges. Lightly but authentically marbled endpapers. Facsimile author signature on second blank page—note that this is the same facsimile signature on all "signed" copies we have seen, even those where the signatures are not noted as facsimile: "With compliments of the author, Archie W. Shiels." Title page repeats front panel illustration of a seal catching its fishy dinner. Colophon states: "Here endeth Seward's Ice Box. This private edition was designed and printed by Union Printing Company, Bellingham, Washington in the month of December nineteen hundred and thirty-two."
Spine crown and foot slightly nudged, and shows some shelfwear, as do panel corners. Fore-edge of textblock has been nicked in 10 consecutive pages near the end. Previous owner's name on same page as facsimile signature. Pages clean and binding tight.
Shiels may have been an amateur historian and geographer, but his selection of topics is admirable: the purchase of Alaska itself; its government; boundaries and issues with Russia; mining, fisheries, navigation; geology; cities and town; and folklore.
The Seward of the title is William H. Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. The phrase "Seward's Icebox," like "Seward's Folly," was a mischievous moniker applied to the purchase at the time. The grammatically correct apostrophe appears within the text itself, though missing from the binding and title-page.