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Introduction Top 10 [1-10] Top 20 [11-20] Children's Books

 

Number 1:  Dracula  [Bram Stoker - Doubleday & McClure - 1899]:

The first American edition was published in NY in 1899 by Doubleday & McClure Co.  However, the book was first copyrighted in Westminster, England in 1897 by Archibald Constable and Company, 2 Whitehall Gardens --  thus the true first edition is indeed the British [UK] edition.  Any other editions carrying an 1897 imprint were published later.   A widespread source of confusion is the 1897 date which is found on most of the later reprints.  This merely corresponds to the British edition published in that year and is not an indicator of the year in which a particular edition was printed.

 

The first British edition was issued in yellow cloth with orange lettering on front and spine.  The front board is outlined in orange box.  The bottom of the book spine will have the imprint Constable // Westminster also in orange.  The first printing will omit the advertisement for "The Shoulder of Shasta" while later printings will include this advertisement.  Beginning in 1904, Constable & Co. changed to a black cloth binding with red design and gold title lettering.  The different states/issues of the 1st UK edition are summarized below.

 

UK Editions

Rear Advertisements

1st Edition, 1st State

Without "Shoulder of Shasta" rear ad.

1st Edition, 2nd State Several  ads beginning with " The Amazing Marriage" by George Meredith, ending with "The Whitehall Shakespeare"
1st Edition, 3rd State With "Shoulder of Shasta" ad

 

Two years later, in 1899, the first American edition was issued by Doubleday & McClure with brown cloth binding.  A brief New York Times article dated September 2, 1899 notes:  "Dracula," by Bram Stoker, "an exceedingly dramatic story of a human vampire, which has already attracted attention in America and England as a serial, will be published by Doubleday & McClure Company in a day or two."

 

Another brief New York Times article dated July 6, 1901 mentions that Dracula will be the next volume published by the A. Wessels Company in their Pan-American Library.

 

In 1902, the 2nd edition was issued by Doubleday, Page & Co. with green cloth binding with front board image of Dracula with bat and wolf.  This edition was reissued in red cloth.  Beginning in 1909, the front cover image was changed to an image of Dracula's turreted castle atop a craggy mountainside with bats circling above.

 

Constable 1st UK Edition [1897]

Constable 8th UK Edition [1904]

 

 

Dating Early Dracula Editions

The two most prevalent misidentifications occur with the popular Grosset & Dunlap (G&D) printings which were issued at a much later date. 

(1) The orange binding G&D StagePlay edition of Dracula was released in 1927 to coincide with the Broadway theatrical opening of 1927;

(2) The red binding G&D PhotoPlay edition was released in 1931 to coincide with the Universal film.

 

 

The primary key to dating early Dracula editions is [believe it or not] to disregard the ubiquitous 1897 copyright notice, but rather to pay close attention to changes to both the title page and any post text rear publisher advertisements.

 

Understanding the Copyright:

The reason that copyright dates are not helpful in dating early editions is because reprint publishers reused the printing plates of earlier editions to save on typesetting costs.  Essentially, only the publisher imprints, title pages and publisher advertisements were updated -- while the copyright information was preserved and reprinted on later editions -- at times for several decades.  It should be strongly emphasized that it was common practice for reprint publishers such as A. L. Burt and Grosset & Dunlap to continually reuse earlier printing plates without any new edition or printing indications on the copyright page.  To be sure of which edition they have, collectors should instead seek out any change in the publisher imprint on the title page vs. the copyright page  [see photo examples below].

 

Publisher Imprint & Location:

Novice collectors must make it a habit to always check the publisher imprint when dating a book.  The publisher imprint is prominently displayed at the base of the book spine, the base of the title page and usually also in any post text advertising plates.  If the original dustjacket is present, the publisher imprint will also be displayed at the base of the jacket spine and sometimes the jacket flaps.  Experienced collectors use these imprints to immediately recognize different editions, particularly being able to quickly tell reprints from first [or early] editions merely by the publisher name imprinted on the book.

 

Publisher Advertisements:

It is important to pay particularly close attention to publisher advertisements at the end of the book text.  These advertisements commonly announced new publisher releases, so by cross-referencing the dates of these new releases it becomes much easier to determine the actual year that a particular edition was printed.  Of course, in the case of Grosset & Dunlap printings, this points to many editions issued during the late 1920s through the late 1940s.  At times, it is also useful to refer to the publisher street address.  For example, an A. L. Burt edition might indicate an address of 52-8 Duane St, NYC which was their location from 1900 to 1912.  A later A. L. Burt edition would show a street address of 114-120 East 23rd St, NYC, which was their location from 1912 until their closing in 1937.

 

Grosset & Dunlap Editions:

In addition to the 1927 StagePlay, 1931 PhotoPlay and similar reprints mentioned above, other areas of confusion are later reprints by Grosset & Dunlap that feature a black cloth binding with red title lettering.  Just as with most other reprint editions, this printing again has the ubiquitous 1897 copyright date. 

 

As Van Helsing tried to do, let me put the nail in the coffin to any doubts about any 1897 Grosset & Dunlap Dracula first editions -- there were NONE, in fact Grosset & Dunlap did not exist as a company until 1899.  Country Life Press [of Long Island] which actually printed these books for Grosset & Dunlap also was not in existence prior to 1900.

 

Buyer Beware [Caveat Emptor]

DO NOT RELY ON THE COPYRIGHT YEAR IN DATING A BOOK.  This point applies widely to vintage reprint editions prior to World War II, and with the prevalence of dating and attribution errors found online cannot be repeated and emphasized strongly enough.

 

The original dustjacket is also a helpful, although not essential, aid to dating these early editions.  However, because of the age of these editions, these original dustjackets are often not present with the original book.

 

 

Doubleday, Page and Doubleday, Doran Editions [1902 to 1928]

Between 1899 and 1927, Doubleday publishers printed many editions of Dracula.  Only the 1899 edition with the Doubleday, McClure imprint on the title page has any consideration as the first US edition.  The minute a collector sees a different imprint on the title page (despite what any dealers or booksellers may claim), this is a red flag that the book they hold is NOT a first edition.

 

Attribution Point:  The US First Edition must have three lines printed at the bottom of the title page:

(1)  "New York";

(2)  "Doubleday & McClure Co.";

(3)  "1899";

 

Doubleday & McClure becomes Doubleday, Page in 1900:

Unfortunately book collectors often fail to pay attention to two very important clues when dating older editions -- that is, the publisher imprint and the publisher location.  In the case of Dracula, being aware of the publishing history of Doubleday is very helpful.  For example, knowledgeable bibliophiles will know that the Doubleday publishing empire changed from using the Doubleday, McClure [1897-1899] imprint to the Doubleday, Page [1900-1927] imprint in early 1900.  In fact, a New York Times article dated December 19, 1899 prominently announces the dissolution of partnership between Frank Doubleday and Samuel McClure and the reorganization under the Doubleday, Page name to take effect in early January of 1900.  From this clue, simple logical deduction will lead the savvy collector to quickly differentiate any pre-1900 Doubleday, McClure editions from the post-1900 editions with the Doubleday, Page imprint [or any others for that matter] as reprint editions.  For more on the Doubleday publishing history see our Publisher History webpages.

 

Doubleday, Page releases 10 editions between 1902 and 1927:

Due to its perennial popularity, Doubleday, Page publishers kept Dracula in print continuously from 1902 to 1927.

Doubleday, Page released editions of Dracula in the following years:

 

(1) 1902;

(2) 1904;

(3) 1909;

(4) 1910;

(5) 1913;

(6) 1917;

(7) 1919;

(8) 1920;

(9) 1924;

(10) 1927;

 

Doubleday, Doran edition and repagination (1927):

On September 22, 1927, Doubleday, Page merged with George H. Doran Company forming Doubleday, Doran the largest publishing firm in the English-speaking world. "The consolidation is effective at once, but until Jan. 1 the firms will retain their separate entitles for the conduct of business, and their present names." [New York Times, September 23, 1927]

 

One of the first titles off the press was another edition of the always successful seller, "Dracula".  With this new edition, the printing plates were reset -- making it quite easy for collectors to date the newer editions based on the page count alone.

 

Attribution Point:  Doubleday, Page editions issued before 1928 included 378 numbered pages.  Beginning with the Doubleday, Doran edition of late 1927 and early 1928, the book was reprinted and repaginated to 354 numbered pages.   Therefore, any US editions with 354 numbered pages can easily be attributed to on or after 1927 by this fact alone.

 

Dracula Dustjackets:  (1) 1913 Doubleday, Page Edition and (2) 1927 Grosset & Dunlap StagePlay Edition

 

Dracula Title Pages:  (1) 1913 Doubleday, Page;  (2) 1924 Doubleday, Page & (3) 1927 Grosset & Dunlap StagePlay -- Editions

 

The full dustjacket for this book can be seen in the horror section of our web store.

 

 

Grosset & Dunlap -- StagePlay Edition [1927]

The StagePlay edition of Dracula was released near the end of 1927 to coincide with the Broadway theatrical opening at the Fulton Theatre in New York on Oct. 5, 1927 which ran for 261 performances through May 1928.  The Broadway play was produced by Horace Liveright a well-known New York book publisher.  The stageplay adaptation [of Bram Stoker's original novel] was written by Hamilton Dean and John Balderston.  Lugosi would not be the only one to reprise their role in the 1931 Universal movie, Edward Van Sloan [Abraham Van Helsing] also performed in both the stage and film versions.

 

The book design for the Grosset & Dunlap StagePlay edition was based on the earlier Doubleday, Page printing of 1913.  Grosset & Dunlap chose to retain the bright orange cloth binding of the 1913 Doubleday edition.  As was typical, in addition to changing the publisher imprints on the book binding and title page, to further differentiate the 1927 Grosset & Dunlap edition from the 1913 Doubleday edition, Grosset & Dunlap changed the coloring of the dustjacket illustration and added captions at top ["Was he beast, man or vampire?"] and at bottom ["Most Sensational Mystery Novel of the Day !"] [see photos above].

 

The StagePlay dustjacket was paired with the orange cloth binding issue of the book.  There were a few different printings of this edition issued by Grosset & Dunlap. Typically there is a one page advertisement at the rear of the book text which commonly notes either "Detective Stories of J.S. Fletcher" [17 Titles - "The Kang-He Vase" to "The Valley of Headstrong Men"] or "Rafael Sabatini's Novels" [7 titles - "Mistress Wilding" to "Scaramouche"].  Cross-referencing the copyright dates of these titles will show many books listed in the rear advertisements from the mid 1920s -- further substantiating the 1927 dating.  Although the publisher did not do so, some collectors have informally coined this the 30th anniversary edition as it appeared 30 years after the 1897 first edition.

 

Contrary to seller claims, this edition is NOT rare or even semi-rare, in fact [without the original dustjacket], the orange cloth 1927 G&D StagePlay edition is the most commonly available of the pre-1940s printings, followed by the red cloth 1931 G&D regular edition and the 1931 G&D PhotoPlay edition.  Despite claims of rarity, this orange cloth edition is found nearly weekly on popular internet auction sites.  The truth is only editions with nice original dustjackets should be considered or even described as semi-rare.  Without the ever-important dustjackets, and in view of their regular appearance for sale, these G&D Dracula books should optimistically be categorized as scarce at best.

 

 

Because of collector confusion mistaking this for a first edition along with seller claims of rarity, this edition sells for prices ranging from $25 to $250 without a dustjacket.  This book would only merit the higher price if it had a very good original dustjacket.  Unfortunately buyers often pay much more than necessary -- it all depends on how misled online bidders are by seller claims.

 

G&D 1927 StagePlay

G&D 1927 Title Page

G&D 1927 Ad Page

 

Grosset & Dunlap -- PhotoPlay Edition [1931]

The PhotoPlay edition of Dracula was released in 1931 to coincide with the Hollywood cinematic release [Feb 12, 1931] of Universal Studios directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi.   Grosset & Dunlap publishers re-issued the dustjacket with a completely new design featuring a movie still of Lugosi's famous staircase scene on the rear panel.  There is a one page advertisement of "Mystery and Detective Stories" after the book text.

 

There are four internal movie stills, these should appear on/near -- frontis, pp 92/93; 188/89; 284/85.

 

The PhotoPlay dustjacket was paired with the red cloth binding issue of the book.  The front panel of the jacket notes "Illustrated with scenes from the Universal Picture produced by Carl Laemmle Jr." under the author's name.

 

Collectors should be aware that Grosset & Dunlap also issued a dustjacket very similar to the photoplay jacket above.  The dustjacket design was nearly identical, however this later dustjacket is clearly distinguishable by the white boxed caption on the front panel which states:  "One of the Most Famous Novels of its kind in the World."  The book also had a red cloth binding except without any interior movie stills.  This printing includes B.M. Bower, Charles Alden Seltzer, Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jackson Gregory advertisements after the text.

G&D 1931 PhotoPlay

G&D 1931 Frontispiece

The dustjacket for this book can be seen in the horror section of our web store.

 

For more extensive information, collectors may wish to refer to the following bibliographies:

Dalby, Richard: Bram Stoker: A Bibliography of First Editions (London: Dracula Press, 1983)

 

Eighteen-Bisang, Robert & J. Gordon Melton: Dracula: A Century of Editions, Adaptations and Translations, Part I: English Language Editions [(TSD Occasional Publication #1) (Santa Barbara, CA: Transylvanian Society of Dracula, 1998)]

 

Number 2:  Tarzan of the Apes  [Edgar Rice Burroughs - A. C. McClurg - 1912]:

The first edition (in book form) was published by A.C. McClurg of Chicago.  The pulp magazine form was issued in October 1912 in the October issue of All-Story.  The hardcover book was not released until June 17, 1914.

 

The hardcover first edition was published in dark red cloth binding with gold lettering on front and spine.  The first printing included 5,000 copies.  Contrary to information in Heins' 1964 bibliography, the first printing did NOT have the acorn on the spine.  Further bibliographic research has confirmed that the acorn emblem corresponds to the second printing of approximately 2,500 copies.  Rather, "the most important indication of the true first edition is the appearance of "W. F. Hall" in Old English script on the copyright page" [Zeuschner, 187].  The 3 States of the McClurg first edition are summarized below:

 

Printing

Spine Emblem

Copyright Page

Quantity Printed

1st Edition, 1st State

1st Edition, 2nd State

1st Edition, 3rd State

No Acorn

Acorn

Acorn

Old English Print

Old English Print

Gothic Print

5,000

2,500

2,500

 

The most commonly misidentified printings are those issued by A.L. Burt and Grosset & Dunlap.  Don't be fooled by the copyright notice -- if either of those names appears anywhere in or on the book, it is certainly not a 1st edition.

 

The A.L. Burt reprints were issued beginning in 1915 up to 1928.  The easiest way to distinguish these editions is by the A.L. Burt imprint found (1) at the base of the jacket spine; (2) at the base of the book spine;  & (3) at the base of the title page.  The A.L. Burt editions included a frontispiece and 401 pages of text.  These reprints were issued in various shades of green cloth [dark green, olive green, light green, etc.].  The earliest A.L. Burt reprints will have the embossed border and white lettering [in contrast to gold lettering of McClurg editions], followed later in early 1920s by embossed border with black lettering, and the latest A.L. Burt reprints will have black lettering without the embossed border.  To get a more exact date of printing, it is always best to check the advertisements at the rear of the text [which were changed annually] and cross-reference the copyright dates of the books listed there.

 

The Grosset & Dunlap reprints were issued beginning in 1927.  Again, the easiest way to distinguish these editions is by looking for the Grosset & Dunlap imprint in the same locations as noted above for the A.L. Burt editions.  Grosset & Dunlap reset the printing plates so that the book text was changed to 393 pages.

 

McClurg 1st Edition

A.L. Burt Reprint Edition

G&D Reprint Edition

 

For more extensive information, collectors may wish to refer to the following bibliography:

Zeuschner, Robert: Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Exhaustive Scholar's and Collector's Descriptive Bibliography (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1996)

 

Number 3:  Phantom of the Opera  [Gaston Leroux - Bobbs Merrill - 1911]:

The first US edition (in book form) was published by Bobbs-Merrill.  The Bobbs Merrill first edition was issued in terra cotta cloth with white lettering on front & spine.  The Canadian first edition is quite similar to the US first edition.  The difference will be the imprint at the base of the title page.  The first US edition will have the imprint "The Bobbs Merrill Company // New York -- Publishers -- Indianapolis", while the first Canadian edition will have the imprint "Toronto // MacLeod & Allen, Publishers".

 

The front cover features an embossed phantom with the title and author surrounded by double box white frame.  The first edition includes a color frontispiece [with tissue guard] plus four full color double page interior illustrations by Andre Castaigne.  The dustjacket features a full color illustration on the front panel matching that of the frontispiece of the book ["They Sat Like That For A Moment Of Silence"].  The price of $1.25 Net is printed near the center of the jacket spine with a summary of the story printed on the rear panel of the jacket. The text is 357 pages.

 

Bobbs Merrill [1911]

Grosset & Dunlap [circa 1912-15]

Grosset & Dunlap [1925]

 

The most commonly misidentified printings are those issued by Grosset & Dunlap.  Don't be fooled by the copyright notice -- if that name [Grosset & Dunlap] appears anywhere in or on the book, it is certainly not a 1st edition.

 

The first Grosset & Dunlap issue features a front cover with a gold silhouette of the phantom [comparable design to the embossed Bobbs Merrill version].  The dustjacket illustration matches that of the front cover of the book.

 

Be aware that Grosset & Dunlap issued the PhotoPlay edition in 1925 to coincide with the 1925 Universal film starring Lon Chaney.  The Photoplay edition includes four movie stills plus two double-page art illustrations found in the earlier Bobbs Merrill edition.  The Photoplay edition was also reissued into the 1930s with no changes other than the publisher advertisements at the rear of the book.

 

Number 4:  The Circular Staircase  [Mary Roberts Rinehart - Bobbs Merrill - 1908]:

The first edition (in book form) was published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1908.  The Bobbs Merrill first edition was issued in olive green cloth with orange lettering on front & spine and illustration of black spiral staircase on the cover.  The dustjacket illustration features a full color image of a lady in nightgown with candlestick in hand fearfully descending a spiral staircase.   The first edition includes a color frontispiece [with tissue guard] plus five black & white interior illustrations by Lester Ralph.  The text is 362 pages.

 

Although The Circular Staircase is widely recognized as Rinehart's first mystery novel, since Bobbs Merrill published The Circular Staircase in 1908 and The Man in Lower Ten in 1909, what is often overlooked is that The Man in Lower Ten was actually serialized in four parts in All-Story Magazine for the January through April 1906 issues prior to The Circular Staircase -- which was serialized in four parts in All-Story Magazine for the November 1907 to March 1908 issues.

 

The most commonly misidentified printings are those issued by Grosset & Dunlap.  Don't be fooled by the copyright notice -- if that name [Grosset & Dunlap] appears anywhere in or on the book, it is certainly not a 1st edition.  The early Grosset & Dunlap edition will match the design of the first edition and is most easily distinguished by the Grosset & Dunlap imprint at the base of the book spine, jacket spine & title page.

 

The G&D jacket was first issued with a green cloth binding having an appliqué cover matching the jacket illustration. The earliest G&D printings featured a portrait of Mary Roberts Rinehart on the rear panel of the dustjacket.   This portrait was later dropped and the rear panel included only a listing of titles.  G&D later issued "The Circular Staircase" in a red binding with the same appliqué, and still later in a red binding with title lettering only. 

 

 The dustjacket illustration matches that of the front cover of the book.

 

In the 1920s, Grosset & Dunlap reissued this book with a new full color dustjacket design showing a lady in night gown descending the staircase.  The front cover had an appliqué with this same image.  This G&D edition was also reissued with different rear dustjacket panel designs.  One lists several Rinehart titles and a later one includes a photo of Mary Roberts Rinehart.

 

In the 1940s, Grosset & Dunlap issued a Madison Square edition using the dustjacket artwork of the 1st edition.  This is known as the wartime issue since it typically has the lower grade wartime paper which often darkens to a tan or brown color as it oxidizes due to the high acidity.  The Madison Square imprint is found at the top left corner of the rear panel of the dustjacket.

 

Bobbs Merrill 1st Edition DJ

Bobbs Merrill 1st Ed HC

Grosset & Dunlap Reprint Edition DJ & HC

 

 

Number 5:  Huckleberry Finn  [Mark Twain - Charles L Webster & Co - 1885]:

The first edition was issued by Charles L. Webster & Co., New York, NY, rather than the American Book Publishing Co. as is often assumed. 
Original binding is gilt-stamped and black-stamped green pictorial cloth.

 

First Edition Points & States from Bibliography of American Literature (BAL, 3415)

(1)

THE TITLE-LEAF

Based on an examination of a set of pre-publication sheets (CWB), pre-publication prospectuses and copies of the published book, the following appears to be a correct statement of the evolution of the title- leaf:

 

[1st State]: Copyright notice dated 1885. Noted only in the prospectus and in a set of advance sheets (in CWB).  No copy of the published book has been seen, or reported, with the copyright notice dated 1885.

 

[2nd State]: The title-leaf is a cancel. Copyright notice dated 1884.

 

[3rd State]: The title-leaf is conjugate with <1>7. Copyright notice dated 1884.

 

(2)

PAGE 13:

[1]:  The illustration captioned "Him and another Man" is mistakenly listed as at p. 88.

 

[2]:  The illustration noted is listed as at p. 87 where it does, in fact, appear.

 

(3)

PAGE 57:

[1]: The 11th line from the bottom reads: "... with the was ...";

 

[2]: The 11th line from the bottom reads: "... with the saw ..."

 

(4)

PAGE 283:

[1]: The leaf is conjugate with leaf 183. The engraving is in the original state. The line indicating the fly on Silas Phelps's trousers is a quite definite curve. In this original state the leaf has been seen only in early prospectuses and in leather bound copies of the published book

 

[2]: The leaf is conjugate with leaf 183. The engraving is in the original state but defaced; whether by accident or design is not known although Mark Twain was convinced that the defacement was deliberate. The blemish is such that the engraving is ribald. Thus far noted only as an excised leaf; in a prospectus; and, in the CWB set of advance sheets. No examined copy of the published book has the defaced plate.

 

[3]: The leaf is a cancel. The engraving has been re-done and the line indicating the fly on Silas Phelps's trousers is, with slight variation, a straight vertical line.

 

[4]: Same as 3 but the leaf is conjugate with leaf 183.

 

(5)

PAGE 155:

The folio occurs as follows:

[1] [2?]: With the final five lacking, thus: 15;

 

[2] [1?]: With the final five present but set above the line of the first, thus: 155;

 

[3]: With the final 5 replaced but, being larger than the first, it extends below the line of the figures that precede it, thus: 155   In this form the folio has been seen in copies of the book printed as late as 1891.

 

(6)

PAGE 161:

[1:]   Thus far no copy of the New York, 1885, edition has been seen with signature mark 11 present on this page.

 

(7)

LEAF 238:

This leaf, the final one in the book, occurs either as a blank; or, excised or pasted under the terminal end paper. In all examined copies of the book bound in cloth, and showing the earlier form of pp. <13>, 57, 155, the leaf has been excised or pasted under the terminal end paper.

 

It is present as a blank leaf in all examined copies of the book bound in publisher's leather; and, in all examined copies of the book showing the later form of the pages indicated.

 

(8)

The Portrait Frontispiece:

This is an insert.  It occurs in several states but the following sequence has been established:

[1]:  With the imprint of the Heliotype Printing Company. The tablecloth, or scarf, on which the bust rests is clearly visible.  In this form the frontispiece may have gone through two or three more printings; or, possibly, it may have been printed from multiple plates. Printed in black.

 

[2]:  With the imprint of the Heliotype Printing Company.  The tablecloth, or scarf, is not visible.  The statement Karl Gerhardt, Sc., has been added to the finished edge of the shoulder. Printed in black.

 

[3]:  With the imprint of the Photo-Gravure Company. Tablecloth, or scarf, not visible. Karl Gerhardt, Sc., on the finished edge of the shoulder. Noted in greenish-blue-black; blackish-brown; lavender.

 

 

 

Further First Edition Points NOT indicated in Bibliography of American Literature

(9)

THE TITLE-LEAF:

Heading for chapter 6 reads "decided" (later corrected to "Decides") on p.9;

 

(10)

PAGE 143:

[1]:  with "l" missing from "Col. " at top of illustration; 11 line 7 from the top part of b in "body" is missing.

 

 

 

Number 6:  The Sea Hawk [Rafael Sabatini - J P Lippincott - 1915]:

Many Sabatini collectors tend to believe that the Houghton-Mifflin edition of the 1920s are the first US editions.  In many cases this is true, however there are several exceptions and "The Sea Hawk" is certainly one of them.  At first glimpse, the Houghton Mifflin edition might appear to be a first as the copyright page gives little clue.  However, the 1st US edition was published by J. P. Lippincott in 1915 and will clearly have the Lippincott imprint on the book spine, jacket spine and title page.

 

Lippincott was the first US publisher of several Sabatini titles including, as noted above, "The Sea Hawk" [1915], along with "Banner of the Bull" [1915], "The Snare" [1917], "Historical Nights Entertainment 1" [1917] & "Historical Nights Entertainment 2" [1919].

 

Collectors should also keep in mind that many of the British first editions precede the US first editions by several years.  This is particularly true of Sabatini's earlier books.  Some examples to note include [among others]:

 

Title UK 1st Edition US 1st Edition

The Tavern Knight

Bardelys the Magnificent

Trampling of the Lilies

St. Martin's Summer

Grant Richards, 1904

Eveleigh Nash, 1906

Hutchinson, 1906

Hutchinson, 1909

Houghton-Mifflin, 1927

Houghton-Mifflin, 1924

Houghton-Mifflin, 1926

Houghton-Mifflin, 1924

 

 

Number 7:  The Benson Murder Case [S S Van Dine - Scribners - 1926]:

Mystery collectors are often quick to point out the "A" imprint on the copyright page to indicate a 1st edition, 1st printing on Scribners' editions.  However, Scribners did not begin using this designation until 1929 -- so the "A" designation is not helpful in determining the 1st printings of the first four titles in S.S. Van Dine's Philo Vance detective series -- that is, The Benson Murder Case [1926], The Canary Murder Case [1927], The Greene Murder Case [1928] and The Bishop Murder Case [1928].  All of these four books have "The Scribners Press" emblem at the bottom of the copyright page.  This is not significant in determining 1st printings as it appeared in subsequent Scribner's printings.  Reprint editions were issued by A.L. Burt and also Grosset & Dunlap.  Grosset & Dunlap issued photoplay editions for the first four titles to coincide with the Paramount & MGM films.

 

Here are a few important points to check for when reviewing editions of these four titles:

Benson Murder Case [1926]:  Front listing should show two titles with 2nd "Canary Murder Case" noted as in preparation.  The 1st printing will have 1926 [in Roman numerals] at base of title page and 1926 on copyright page.  Subsequent printings will have later dates in Roman numerals [i.e., 1927 & 1928 printings]. No advertisements after end of text.  There are four (4) maps/floor plans/diagrams in the text (pp. 25, 125, 303 & 309)

 

Canary Murder Case [1927]:  Front listing should show three titles with 3rd "Taxicab Murder Case" noted as in preparation in the 1st Printing, 1st State [A], and "Greene Murder Case" in the 1st printing, 2nd State [B].  The 1st printing will have 1927 [in Roman numerals] at base of title page and 1927 on copyright page.  Subsequent printings will have later dates. One advertisement for Benson Murder Case after end of text.  There are five (5) maps/floor plans/diagrams in the text (pp. 23, 27, 275, 278 & 298)

 

Greene Murder Case [1928]:  Front listing should show four titles with 4th "Mother Goose Murder Case" noted as in preparation.  Note that this title was renamed "Bishop Murder Case" prior to release.  Two advertisements for Canary MC & Benson MC after end of text.  There are six (6) maps/floor plans/diagrams in the text (pp. 34, 36, 74, 110, 197 & 380)   There is also a glossy frontispiece "The Greene Mansion, New York, as it appeared at the time of the notorious Green Murder Case"  [from an old woodcut by Lowell L. Balcom].

 

Bishop Murder Case [1929]:  Front listing should list five titles with 5th title "Scarab Murder Case" noted as in preparation.  The 1st printing will have 1929 [in Roman numerals] at base of title page and 1929 on copyright page.  The 2nd printing will indicate "Published Feb 1929" and "Reprinted Mar 1929" on copyright page.  Both 1st and 2nd printings will have three advertisements for each of the three previous titles, Greene MC, Canary MC & Benson MC [yes, in reverse order].  There are two (2) fold-out maps (pp. 28/29 & pp 242/43)

 

Long-time mystery collectors may have noted that there are several phantom titles in the Philo Vance series.  Here is a table summarizing these phantom titles and in which book they are referenced as being "in preparation":

 

Vol

Book

Phantom Title:

Replaced With:

2

5

10

11

12

Canary Murder Case [1927]

Scarab Murder Case  [1930]

Garden Murder Case  [1935]

Kidnap Murder Case  [1936]

Gracie Allen Murder Case  [1938]

Taxicab Murder Case

Autumn Murder Case

Purple Murder Case

Linden Murder Case

Powwow Murder Case

Greene Murder Case  [1928]

Kennel Murder Case  [1933]

Kidnap Murder Case  [1936]

Gracie Allen Murder Case  [1938]

Winter Murder Case  [1939]

 

 

Number 8:  King of the Khyber Rifles [Talbot Mundy - Bobbs Merrill - 1916]:

The first edition of this classic Talbot Mundy adventure was published by Bobbs Merrill in 1916. The first edition was issued in brown cloth binding with gilt rectangular box at center of front cover. The first printing of the first edition has author's name misspelled as "Talbott" on the title page.  The dustjacket features a wonderful line art image of a rider atop a ceremonially attired Indian elephant alongside a temple [pictured below].    The text is 395 pages.

 

 

The AL Burt reprint was issued in red cloth with blue lettering using the same cover design.  However, the dustjacket artwork was a full color rendition of Joseph Clement Cole's line art illustration found between pages 268-69 of the first edition.

 

Number 9:  The Hound of the Baskervilles [Arthur Conan Doyle - McClure, Phillips - 1902]:

The first American edition was published in NY in 1902 by McClure, Phillips & Co.  The first British edition was published in London in 1902 by George Newnes Co.  -- the issue of the British first edition preceded that of the American first edition.  Prior to the hardcover book being issued, this mystery novel was serialized in "The Strand" magazine in 1901. 

 

The first British edition was issued in red cloth with gilt lettering.  The front board features a boxed image of "the hound" in black silhouetted against a moonlit sky.  This first edition is illustrated with a frontispiece and 15 interior illustrations by Sidney Paget.  There were 25,000 copies of the British first edition issued.  The first issue has the misprint 'you' for 'your' on page 13, line 3. The book measures 7½" x 4¾".

 

The first American edition was issued red cloth with white lettering.  This first US edition is illustrated with a frontispiece and 7 interior illustrations by Sidney Paget.  The front board features a cameo of Holmes at center.  Above the cameo is printed "The Hound of // the Baskervilles // Another Adventure of // Sherlock Holmes" [// indicates line break].  Below the cameo "A Novel by // A Conan Doyle" 

 

The first printing of the U.S. edition totaled 70,000 copies and occurs in four variant states, all prepared before publication.

The four states of the US first edition can be easily distinguished by the following notations:

 

State Copyright Page Notation
First (1st)

Second (2nd)

Third (3rd)

Fourth (4th)

"Published 1902" line is NOT printed on copyright page [reverse of title page]

"Published 1902, R" line is present, "Illustrated" present on the title page

"Published March, 1902, R" on copyright page.

"Published March, 1902, R" on copyright page.

 

A widespread source of confusion is the 1902 date which is found on most of the later reprints.  This merely corresponds to the year the book was first published, and is not an indicator of the year of that particular issue.  Any other editions carrying a 1902 imprint were published later.  

 

The two most prevalent misidentifications occur with the popular Grosset & Dunlap (G&D) printings which were issued at a much later date.

 

Grosset & Dunlap 1921 Edition DJ

Grosset & Dunlap 1934 Edition DJ

 

 

 

Number 10:  The Clansman [The Birth of a Nation] [Thomas Dixon Jr. - Doubleday, Page & Co - 1905]:

In 1905 the 1st edition of this book was issued by Doubleday, Page & Co.  The book was issued in red cloth with white lettering [to title & author].  The book included illustrations by Arthur Keller. The first edition will have the Doubleday, Page imprint at the base of the book spine, dustjacket spine and title page.  There are 374 numbered pages.  The later editions by Wessels and Grosset & Dunlap reused the original printing plates, so therefore the pagination remained the same (as did the copyright notice).

 

In 1907, this book was reprinted by Wessels and will have the Wessels imprint replacing the earlier Doubleday, Page imprint at the base of the book spine, dustjacket spine and title page.  This 2nd edition was again issued in red cloth with white lettering [to title & author].

 

In 1908, Grosset & Dunlap obtained the reprint rights for this book and issued the 3rd edition.  The early Grosset & Dunlap book retained the red cloth binding with white lettering and the dustjacket cover design by Arthur I. Keller featuring an image of Abraham Lincoln debating with abolitionist Congressman Austin Stoneman (based on real-life Reconstruction-era Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania).  There are four illustrations by Arthur I. Keller which appear on frontispiece, 50/51, 174/75, and 326/27.  The dustjacket illustration is repeated inside the book between pages 50 & 51.

 

The Clansman would serve as the script for one of the epic silent films of Hollywood -- The Birth of a Nation.  In the Klan trilogy - The Leopard's Spots (1902), The Clansman (1905), The Traitor (1907) - and in The Sins of the Fathers (1912), Dixon presents racial conflict as an epic struggle, with the future of civilization at stake. Although Dixon personally condemned slavery and Klan activities after Reconstruction ended, he argued that blacks must be denied political equality because that leads to social equality and miscegenation, thus to the destruction of both family and civilized society. [From UNC Chapel Hill - Documenting the American South]

 

In 1915, Grosset & Dunlap issued the 1st PhotoPlay edition [with white lettering on red binding and 8 movie stills] which followed closely upon the release of the Epoch film, "The Birth of a Nation" directed by D. W. Griffith which premiered in Los Angeles on Feb 8, 1915.

 

The film was later re-released in New York City beginning on Dec 18, 1930, followed shortly by the re-release of Grosset & Dunlap's 2nd PhotoPlay edition [with black lettering on red binding and 4 movie stills].

 

Grosset & Dunlap 1908 Edition DJ

Grosset & Dunlap 1915 PhotoPlay Edition DJ

 

 

Stop the First Edition Madness
Are you an experienced collector or bibliographer that is frustrated and fed up with the plethora of first edition errors that abound in online auctions and even popular book search engines.  Can you stand the pain no longer.  Are you tired of emailing sellers with well-intentioned corrections, detailed attributions or bibliographical citations that go unheeded, ignored or even challenged.  Do you just want people to get it right once and for all.  Do you realize the irony that many collectors are being confused and sellers are unwittingly perpetuating these mistakes to the point of making them practically urban legends.  

 

 

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Last Revision January 29, 2010 09:05 PM