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First-Edition - Identification by Publisher

In the case of titles published before 1900, the key to first-edition identification is often the date on the title page. The vast majority of first editions published before 1900 had the year of publication on the title page (this is true for fiction and non-fiction titles). The presence of a date on the title page alone may identify books published prior to the mid-1800s as first editions. A matching date on the copyright page (or the back of the title page) often identifies a book published in the mid - to late 1800s as a first edition. After 1900, a number of publishers did not or currently do not put the date on the title page of their first editions.

Publié le 06 Mai 2010

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By Allen and Patricia Ahearn


In the case of titles published before 1900, the key to first-edition identification is often the date on the title page. The vast majority of first editions published before 1900 had the year of publication on the title page (this is true for fiction and non-fiction titles). The presence of a date on the title page alone may identify books published prior to the mid-1800s as first editions. A matching date on the copyright page (or the back of the title page) often identifies a book published in the mid - to late 1800s as a first edition. After 1900, a number of publishers did not or currently do not put the date on the title page of their first editions.

In the early 1900s, many publishers began to identify the first edition on the copyright page. A variety of statements have been used and continue to be used to denote a first edition, such as "First Edition," "First Printing," "First Impression," "First published (Year, or Month and Year)," or simply "Published (Year, or Month and Year)." A few publishers have placed or place their logo, colophon, or a code (generally "1" or "A") on the copyright page of the first edition. Publishers who did not or do not use a first-edition statement, in most cases, note subsequent printings on the copyright page. For these publishers, the absence of a later printing statement is the key to identifying the first edition.

Books with "First and Second Printings before Publication" are second printings.

Over the past few decades, the majority of publishers have used a number row on the copyright page to identify a book's printing and occasionally the date of publication. Sometimes the number row is accompanied by a first-edition statement (often it is not). It is important to note that regardless of the order of the numbers in the row, the lowest number indicates the printing. The presence of the number "1" (with few exceptions) indicates a first printing. Some examples follow:

"1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10"

"10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1" and

"1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2"

all indicate a first edition.

"76 77 78 79 80 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2"

indicates a second printing published in 1976.

"3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 90 89 88 87 86"

indicates a third printing published in 1986.

"1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 H/C 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2"

indicates a first printing, manufactured by "H" in a cloth binding (used by Scribners). Unfortunately, publishers sometimes fail to omit a first-edition statement from subsequent printings:

First Edition
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

and

First Printing
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 90 89 88 87 86 85 84

are both third printings.

The list below provides at-a-glance information for first-edition identification by publisher. For more detailed information on identifying first editions by a wide range of publishers, we recommend the 1995 edition of Edward N. Zempel and Linda A. Verkler's First Editions: A Guide to Identification (The Spoon River Press, 2319-C West Rohmann Avenue, Peoria, IL 61604). This superb reference provides publishers' verbatim statements, collected over nearly 70 years, on their practices for identifying first editions and later printings. In addition, we highly recommend the occasional series "A Collector's Guide to Publishers" featured in the monthly magazine for book collectors Firsts (4493 N. Camino Gacela, Tucson, AZ 85718. Telephone: 520-529-5847). This interesting and informative series provides a history, some notable writers and books published, and standard practices for first-edition identification (and, in some cases, notable exceptions), for the publishers profiled over 30 major publishers to date. We used our experience over the last 30 years, our stock, and both of the above-mentioned references to compile the list below.

A final, important note: It is always prudent to consult a bibliography for conclusive first-edition identification. We have a rather extensive list of author and other bibliographies on this site for information.

D. Appleton & Co. Used a numerical identification, in parentheses or brackets, at the foot of the last page: "(1)" = first printing, "(2)" = second printing, etc. (May have occasionally used a "first edition" statement instead of the numerical identification.)

D. Appleton-Century Co. Prior to the 1980s, used a numerical identification, in parentheses or brackets, at the foot of the last page: "(1)" = first printing, "(2)" = second printing, etc. (May have occasionally used a "first edition" statement instead of the numerical identification.) Since the 1980s, have used a number row to indicate year of publication and printing.

Arkham House / Arkham House Publishers, Inc. With the exception of collected works of H. P. Lovecraft, did not reprint titles and, as late as the 1980s, always included a colophon at the back of each book (reprints would be noted there). According to the publisher, began using a first-edition statement and noting later printings on the copyright page sometime in the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Atheneum. States first edition on copyright page. Began using a number row in the mid-1980s.

Atlantic Monthly Press. Prior to 1925, did not use a first edition statement (or put the publication date on the title page of first editions as was the case for many publishers in the late -1800s to early 1900s, and did not consistently list later printings on the copyright page. See Little, Brown for books published after 1925 (Little, Brown began publishing the Atlantic Monthly Books in 1925 and using their methods for first-edition identification).

Avalon Books. Does not normally reprint books, but according to the publisher, later printings would be noted.

Ballantine Books. In general, hardcover editions stated "First edition (Month, Year)" or "First printing (Month, Year)"; paperback originals carried no statement on the copyright page for first printings; later printings were noted.

Robert A. Ballou. No consistent practice.

A. S. Barnes. According to the publisher, have noted later printings on the copyright page since at least 1976. Prior to this, designation of later printings was erratic. (Does not use a first-edition statement.)

Ernest Benn. States "First published in (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; or sometimes omits the "first published" statement and puts the year of publication on the title page with their imprint to designate a first edition. In either case, subsequent printings are noted.

William Blackwood. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. (According to the publisher, in the early 1900s may have designated some first editions "second edition" as a marketing tool.)

Blakison. Reprint publisher.

Bobbs-Merrill. Prior to the 1920s, sometimes used a bow-and-arrow design on the copyright page of their first editions; after 1920, generally stated "First edition" or "First printing" (but not consistent in either practice).

Bodley Head. States "First published 19.." or "First published in Great Britain 19.."; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Albert & Charles Boni. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Boni & Liveright. May have occasionally stated first edition, but in general, the absence of a later printing statement indicates a first edition.

Book Supply Co. Uses a first edition statement; subsequent printings presumably noted.

Brentano's. Prior to 1928, no statement on first editions; subsequent printings noted. In 1928, began stating "First printed 19.." on copyright page of first editions and continued noting subsequent printings.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Published only the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs. No statement on books published prior to 1933; began using a first edition statement sometime in 1933. (Although both were published in 1933, there is no statement on the first edition of Apache Devil but Tarzan and the City of Gold states first edition on the copyright page.)

A. L. Burt. Primarily a reprint publisher, but published the first U.S. edition of P. G. Wodehouse's Man with Two Left Feet (states first edition on the copyright page). For those authors whose first editions have become very high-priced, A. L. Burt reprints in dust jackets closely matching the first editions are sometimes desirable.

Calder & Boyars. States "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)"; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith. States "First published (Year)" or "First published in America (Year)"; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Jonathan Cape. States "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on copyright page of first editions; subsequent printings noted.

Cassell & Co. Prior to the early 1920s, put the year of publication on the title page of the first edition and left the copyright page blank; subsequent printings would presumably be noted or carry a later date on the copyright page. In the early 1920s, began stating "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on copyright page of first editions; subsequent printings noted.

Caxton Printers. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Century Co. No consistent practice.

Chapman & Hall. Either stated "First published (Year)" or made no statement on first editions; subsequent printings noted.

Chatto & Windus.
In general, no statement on first editions, although sometimes states "Published by Chatto & Windus" (without a date); subsequent printings noted. May have added a number row in the early 1990s.

Clarke, Irwin. No statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

Collier. In our limited experience with this publisher, no statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

Collins (U.K.). No statement on the first edition; presumably subsequent printings would be noted (with either a statement, or a date subsequent to the copyright date).

Contact Editions. Limited editions included a colophon page. Did not generally use a first edition statement on trade editions, but subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Pascal Covici. May have occasionally stated first edition, but in general the absence of a later printing statement indicates a first edition.

Covici-Friede. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Covici McGee. No statement on the first edition, but presumably later printings would be noted.

Coward-McCann. Not consistent in their practices for identifying first editions, but in general subsequent printings noted. (Until mid-1930s, usually placed a colophon with a torch design on the copyright page of first editions and removed the torch portion of the colophon on subsequent printings. After 1935, stated "first American edition" on the copyright page of books first published outside the United States, but made no statement on books first published in the United States.)

Coward, McCann and Geoghehan. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Creative Age. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Crime Club (U.K.). See Collins.

Crime Club (U.S.).
See Doubleday, Doran & Co.

Thomas Y. Crowell. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. May have used a number row to indicate printings as early as the 1940s.

Crown Publishers.
Prior to the 1970s, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. Began using a number row and first-edition statement in the 1970s.

John Day Co. / John Day in association with Reynal and Hitchcock [1935-38] / John Day & Co. First few years (beginning in 1928) may have stated "First Published (Month, Year)" on first editions and noted later printings. In the 1930s, switched to designating only later printings (no statement on first editions). In the 1970s, began using a number row. (In the late 1970s, may have added a first-edition statement to the number row.)

Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Presently uses a number row; previously stated "first printing" or "first American printing." Devin-Adair. Although may have consistently stated "First Edition" in recent years, in general first editions can be identified by the absence of a later printing statement.

Dial Press. Although occasionally stated "First Printing" prior to the mid-1960s, did not list subsequent printings. In general, first editions published prior to the mid-1960s can be identified by the presence of the same date on the title page and the copyright page (also true for books published before the mid-1930s with the imprint "Lincoln MacVeagh / The Dial Press"). In the late 1960s, began stating "First Printing (Year)" on first editions and noting subsequent printings. Currently uses a number row.

Dillingham. In our limited experience with this publisher, no statement on the first edition; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Dodd, Mead. Prior to 1976, no statement on first editions, and often subsequent printings were not noted. In late 1976, added a number row to most titles (occasionally deleting the row from subsequent printings and replacing it with a later printing statement). Note: According to Firsts magazine, in the 1970s first-printing dustwrappers of some mystery titles were issued without a price on the flap, making them appear to be book-club editions.

George H. Doran. Generally placed a colophon with the initials "GHD" on the copyright page of the first edition (but not consistently until the early 1920s). Occasionally, stated "first printing." Merged with Doubleday in 1927.

Doubleday & Co. States "first edition" on copyright page; no statement on later printings.

Doubleday, Doran & Co. States "first edition" on copyright page; no statement on later printings.

Doubleday & McClure Co. In general, the date on the title page should match last date on the copyright page of a first edition.

Doubleday, Page & Co
. Before the early 1920s, no statement on the first edition. In early 1920s, began stating "first edition," but may not have used any statement on books first published outside the U.S. (no statement on later printings).

Duell, Sloan and Pearce.
In general, either stated "First Edition" or placed a Roman numeral "I" on the copyright page of first editions. Later printings were usually denoted similarly - e.g., "Second Printing" or "II."

E. P. Dutton. Prior to 1929, the date on the title page should match the last date on the copyright page of a first edition. In the 1930s, began stating "First edition" or "First printing." In recent years, added a number row (they adjust the numbers for subsequent printings, but often fail to remove the first edition statement).

Editions Poetry. States "First published...(Year)" on the copyright page of the first edition; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Egoist Press. Limited editions included a colophon page. Did not generally use a first-edition statement on trade editions, but subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

Eyre & Spottiswoode. Either printed the year of publication under their name at the bottom of the title page of first editions, or stated "This book, first published 19.., is printed..." on the copyright page; subsequent printings were noted.

Faber & Faber, Ltd. States "First Published (Month, Year)" on copyright page and notes subsequent printings. Prior to 1968, the year of publication was in Roman numerals; beginning in 1968, switched to Arabic numerals. Since World War II, the month has generally been omitted from the first-edition statement. Recently added a number row to most publications.

Faber & Gwyer, Ltd. Stated "First published by Faber & Gwyer in (Month, Year)" on copyright page of first editions; noted subsequent printings.

Fantasy Press.
States "First Edition" on copyright page; may have occasionally left "First Edition" statement of original publisher on offset reprints with their imprint.

Farrar, Rinehart. Publisher's logo appears on the copyright page of first editions; no statement on subsequent printings. Very rarely stated "first edition" (in place of the logo).

Farrar, Straus. Publisher's stylized initials (FS) appear on the copyright page of first editions; no statement on subsequent printings.

Farrar, Straus & Cudahy.
States either "First published (Year)" or "First printing" on the copyright page of first editions.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux. States either "First published (Year)," "First printing (Year)," or "First edition (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions.

Farrar, Straus & Young. Used either a first-edition statement or a colophon on the copyright page of first editions.

Fawcett. Uses a number row to designate printings.

Four Seas. In general, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Funk & Wagnalls. Used a Roman numeral "1" (I) on the copyright page of first editions. According to the publisher's statements, beginning in 1929, stated "First published (Month, Year)" on first editions and noted subsequent printings (presumably no statement on first editions published prior to 1929). But the first edition of John Cheever's The Enormous Radio, published in 1953, has the Roman numeral "1" and does not have a first edition statement.

Lee Furman. Made no attempt to identify first editions or subsequent printings.

Gambit, Inc. States "First printing" on the copyright page of first editions; subsequent printings are noted.

Gnome Press. States "First Edition" on copyright page; may have occasionally left "First Edition" statement of original publisher on offset reprints with their imprint.

Victor Gollancz, Ltd. Prior to 1984, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted [e.g., "First published (Year) | Second impression (Year)"]. In 1984, began stating "First published in..." on the copyright page of first editions.

Grosset & Dunlap. Primarily a reprint house, but some notable first editions have been published by Grosset & Dunlap: King Kong (photoplay); Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series; Fran Striker's "Lone Ranger" series; and Zane Grey's The Redheaded Outfield and Other Stories. In addition, Grosset & Dunlap's "photoplay" editions (illustrated with stills from motion pictures) are collectible. In our experience, there is no statement of edition or printing on Grossett & Dunlap publications. It is, however, possible to eliminate obvious later printings by checking the list of other books published in the series. A later printing would probably list titles that were published after the book in hand. (Note: For those authors whose first editions have become very high-priced, Grosset & Dunlap reprints in dust jackets closely matching the first edition's are sometimes desirable.)

Grove Press. First editions and subsequent printings are always noted on the copyright page; currently uses a number row. Later-printing dustwrappers are identifiable by small letter code on the rear panel (e.g., "ii" designates a second printing dustwrapper).

Robert Hale. Prior to 1958, either no statement on first editions or stated "First published (Year)," but in both cases subsequent printings were noted. Beginning in 1958, stated "First published in Great Britain in (Year)" on first editions; continued to identify subsequent printings. According to the publisher, a number row was adopted in 1994 for nonfiction titles only.

Hamish Hamilton. States "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain in (Year)" on copyright page; notes subsequent printings. Added a number row in 1988.

Harcourt, Brace & Co. (1921-1960.) From 1921 to 1931 did not state on first printings. In about 1931 it started putting "First Edition" or First American Edition" on the copyright page. In many instances, it did not state later printings but took the first-edition statement off after the first printing. Occasionally, through the 1940s, it would use a "1" on the first printing. The "1" was removed for later printings.

Harcourt, Brace & Howe. (1919-1921.) Usually placed the number "1" on the copyright page of first printings, "2" on second printings, etc. May have occasionally stated "Published (Month) (Year)" on the copyright page of first printings and noted later printings.

Harcourt, Brace & World. (1960-1970.) States "first edition" or "first American edition" on the copyright page. Succeeded by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1970.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (Established in 1970.) States "first edition" or "first American edition" on the copyright page, or, placed "First Edition/ABCDE" on the copyright page of first editions except during the years 1973 to 1983, when they did not use the "A" but used "First Edition/BCDE." In both cases they dropped "First Edition" and the appropriate letter(s) on later printings.

Harper & Brothers. Prior to 1912, the date on the title page should match the last date on the copyright page. Began stating "First Edition" on the copyright page in 1922. A letter code for the month and year the book was printed, which would actually be earlier than the official publication date, was introduced in 1912. In most cases for first editions published between 1912 and 1922, the letter code for the year on the copyright page should match (or precede) the date on the title page.

Months (the letter "J" was not used)
A=January D=April G=July K=October
B=February E=May H=August L=November
C=March F=June I=September M=December

Years (the letter "J" was not used)
M=1912 B=1927 R=1942 G=1957
N=1913 C=1928 S=1943 H=1958
O=1914 D=1929 T=1944 I=1959
P=1915 E=1930 U=1945 K=1960
Q=1916 F=1931 V=1946 L=1961
R=1917 G=1932 W=1947 M=1962
S=1918 H=1933 X=1948 N=1963
T=1919 I=1934 Y=1949 O=1964
U=1920 K=1935 Z=1950 P=1965
V=1921 L=1936 A=1951 Q=1966
W=1922 M=1937 B=1952 R=1967
X=1923 N=1938 C=1953 S=1968
Y=1924 O=1939 D=1954
Z=1925 P=1940 E=1955
A=1926 Q=1941 F=1956

HarperCollins. [Harper & Row changed its name to HarperCollins in 1990].States "First Edition" and uses a number row which indicates the year of publication and printing (may sometimes fail to remove the "First Edition" statement from later printings).

Harper & Row. States "First Edition" on the copyright page (also see month and date code above). In 1969, added a number row to the bottom of the last page (directly before the rear free endpaper) but often failed to remove the "First Edition" statement from later printings. By 1975, the number row was usually placed on the copyright page (still often failed to remove "First Edition" statement from later printings).

Hart-Davis, MacGibbon Limited. States "Published... (Year)" on first editions; subsequent printings are noted.

Rupert Hart-Davis. Although usually stated "First published (Year)" on copyright page of first editions, sometimes placed the publication date on the title page of first editions (with no statement on the copyright page); in both cases, subsequent printings were noted.

Harvard University Press.
Places the year of publication on the title page of first editions, removing it from subsequent printings and adding a notice to the copyright page. In addition, may have used a number row in the 1980s.

W. Heinemann, Ltd. / William Heinemann, Ltd. / William Heinemann. From 1890 to 1921, placed the year of publication on the title page of first editions, removing it from subsequent printings and adding a notice to the copyright page (very occasionally, books reprinted in the year of initial publication may not have a notice on the copyright page). In the 1920s, began stating "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on copyright page of first editions; continued to note subsequent printings.

Heritage Press. Publishes reprints or "trade editions" of the Limited Editions Club.

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. Prior to the 1940s, had no consistent practice for identifying first editions or later printings. In the 1940s, may have begun to state "First Printed (Year)" on first editions and to note subsequent printings. By 1976, were consistent in stating "First published in (Year)" on first editions and noting subsequent printings. Hogarth Press. No statement on first editions; subsequent printings are identified on the title page and/or copyright page. Currently use a number row.

Henry Holt. Prior to 1945, first editions can generally be identified by the lack of a later printing statement on the copyright page. Beginning in 1945, usually placed a first-edition statement on the copyright page of books produced in the United States (no statement on books produced outside the United States). After 1985, began using a first-edition statement and number row.

Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Prior to the 1970s, may have used a first-edition statement (with the exception of books produced outside the United States). Presumably in the 1970s began using a first-edition statement and number row.

Houghton, Mifflin. Almost invariably places the date, in Arabic numerals, on the title page of first printings, removing it on subsequent printings. Additionally, in the late 1950s, began consistently placing a "first printing" statement on the copyright page. In the early 1970s, replaced the "first printing" statement with a number row, which includes a manufacturer code.

B. W. Huebsch. No statement on first editions; subsequent printings noted.

Hurst. Reprint publisher.

Hutchinson & Co. States "First published (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on copyright page of first editions. (May be no statement on books published early in this century).

Michael Joseph Ltd. Since at least the mid-1930s, have stated "First published ... (Month, Year)" on copyright page of first editions, and noted subsequent printings. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a number row was added to the printing statement.

Alfred A. Knopf. Until 1933-1934, sometimes stated "Published (Month or Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; later printings were noted. Since 1933-1934 have consistently stated "First Edition" (with the possible exception of children's books). Books with "First and second printings before publication" on the copyright page are second printings (e.g., booksellers' demand warranted a second printing prior to the publication date).

John Lane. Prior to 1925, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings were noted. Since 1925, have stated "First Published in (Year, or Month and Year)" on first editions and continued to note subsequent printings.

Limited Editions Club. Does not reprint titles (see Heritage Press for "trade" editions), and always includes a colophon at the back of each book. In general, limited to 1,500 copies; issued in fine bindings and slipcases or boxes. Nearly all the titles are signed by the illustrator, and occasionally by the author or others.

J. B. Lippincott. Beginning in roughly 1925, sometimes placed a first-edition statement on the copyright page but always indicated later printings (or "impressions"). In the mid-1970s, added a number row to the first-edition statement.

Lippincott and Crowell.
States "First Edition" and uses a number row.

Little, Brown. Prior to the early 1930s, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. In the 1930s, stated "Published (Month) (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; later printings were normally indicated. Since 1940, have stated "First Edition" or "First Printing," and added a number row in the late 1970s.

Horace Liveright, Inc. / Liveright Publishing Corp. Prior to the 1970s, in general, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted (may have occasionally used a first-edition statement). In recent years, may have used a number row in addition to stating "First Edition."

John Long. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Longmans, Green Co. (U.K.) Prior to the late 1920s, no statement on the first edition, but subsequent printings noted. Since the late 1920s, have stated "First Published (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; subsequent printings are noted.

Longmans, Green Co. (U.S.) Prior to the late 1920s, no statement on the first edition; subsequent printings are presumably noted or carry a date on the copyright page later than the date on the title page. Since the late 1920s, have stated "First Edition" on the copyright page and noted subsequent printings.

The Macaulay Co. No statement on first editions; subsequent printings generally noted.

The Macmillan Co. / Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (U.K.) Prior to the mid-1920s, no statement on the first edition, but subsequent printings noted. Since the mid-1920s, have stated "First Published (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions.

The Macmillan Co. / Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (U.S.) Prior to the late 1800s, the date on the title page should match the last date on the copyright page for first editions (did not always designate later printings, but did change the date on the copyright page). Also, beginning sometime in the late 1800s, usually placed the statement "Set up and electrotyped. Published (Month, Year)" on first editions, and generally indicated subsequent printings. Mid-year 1936, began stating "First printing" on the copyright page; added a number row in the 1970s.

Macmillan of Canada. Does not designate first editions.

Robert M. McBride. Stated "First Published (Month, Year)," "Published (Month, Year)" or more recently "First Edition" on the copyright page of first editions; subsequent printings were noted.

McClure, Phillips. Either no statement or "Published (Month, Year, occasionally followed by a letter code)" on the copyright page of the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted with either a statement or a later date.

A. C. McClurg. Stated "Published in (Year)" on the first edition, but may have failed to change this notice on later printings.

McDowell, Obolensky. No statement on the first edition or sometimes stated "First printing"; subsequent printings would presumably be noted.

McGraw-Hill. Until 1956, may not have used a first-edition statement. Since 1956, have used a first-edition statement and noted subsequent printings.

Methuen & Co. Since 1905, have stated "First published in (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions, and noted subsequent printings. Prior to 1905, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted (sometimes with a "thousands" statement on the title page such as "43rd Thousand").

Metropolitan Books. No statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

Modern Library. Reprint series published by Random House (prior to 1925 published by Boni & Liveright). Early titles in the series, especially in dust jacket, "Modern Library Giants," and titles with new forewords by the author or original publisher are collectible. Since 1925, have stated "First Modern Library Edition" on the copyright page of the first edition (only haphazardly prior to 1925); occasionally left the first-edition statement on subsequent printings, but the presence of later-published titles within the book in hand will often identify it as a later edition. Note: Later-issue dust jackets are often found on the first editions.

William Morrow. Prior to 1973, only sometimes placed "First Printing (Month, Year)" on the copyright page but always indicated later printings. Since 1973, have used a number row and sometimes a first-edition statement (occasionally fail to remove first-edition statement from later printings).

Museum of Modern Art. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings are noted.

Mycroft & Moran. See Arkham House.

New American Library. Uses a first-edition statement and number row.

New Directions. Not consistent in using a first-edition statement or identifying subsequent printings, and often bound up first-edition sheets later, so binding variations are important in first-edition identification.

New English Library. States "First published by New English Library in (Year)" or "First published in Great Britain (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions. In general, the year in the "first published" notice should match the copyright year.

George Newnes. No statement on first editions.

W. W. Norton. In past years, usually used a first-edition statement, but did not indicate later printings. Currently uses a first-edition statement and number row, but occasionally fails to remove the first-edition statement from subsequent printings.

Peter Owen. States "First published by Peter Owen (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions and notes subsequent printings.

Oxford University Press. (New York and U. K.) Until the late 1980s, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. Started using a number row in the late 1980s.

Pantheon Books, Inc. Until 1964, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted (may have occasionally stated "First Printing"). Since 1964, have stated "First Edition." May have begun using a number row, in addition to the first-edition statement, in the late 1980s.

Payson & Clarke. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

G. P. Putnam's Sons. Prior to 1985, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. Since 1985, have used a number row.

Random House. States "First Edition" on the first printing; does not indicate subsequent printings. In recent years, added a number row beginning or ending with "2," i.e., "First Edition/23456789," to first editions, and removed the first edition statement from subsequent printings (e.g., "23456789" without a first edition statement would indicate a second printing).

Rapp & Whiting. Generally stated "First published (Year)" on the copyright page of the first edition.

Reynal & Hitchcock. Until 1947, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. For books published after 1947, see Harcourt, Brace & Co.

Grant Richards. No statement on the first edition.

Rinehart & Co.
Placed an "R" in a circle on first editions and removed from subsequent printings (subsequent printings not otherwise noted).

St. Martin's Press. Until the early 1980s, no first-edition statement, but subsequent printings noted. Since the early 1980s, have used a number row and a first-edition statement.

Scribners. Until 1930, the Scribners seal and the date of publication (month and year) generally appeared on first editions, and subsequent printings were usually noted (although did not strictly adhered to either practice). Since 1930, have used an "A" on the copyright page to denote the first edition, sometimes with the Scribner seal, and sometimes with a code representing the month and year of publication and the book's manufacturer (later printings were either not noted, or indicated with a "B," etc.). In the 1970s, added a number row, which includes a letter code for the manufacturer and type of binding (at the center).

Martin Secker, Ltd. / Secker & Warburg. Prior to the 1940s, no statement on first editions or occasionally stated "First Published in ...(Year)"; subsequent printings noted. In the 1940s, began stating "First published in ...(Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; continued noting subsequent printings.

Simon & Schuster. Until 1952, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted (possibly with symbols as, reportedly, a few titles in the 1930s carried a series of dots or asterisks on the copyright page to indicate additional printings). In 1952, began using a first-edition statement. In the early 1970s, began using a number row (occasionally with a first edition statement).

William Sloane Associates. States "First Printing" on the copyright page of first editions, and notes subsequent printings.

Small, Maynard. No statement on the first edition.

Smith, Elder. No statement on the first edition.

Harrison Smith & Robert Haas. Not consistent in use of a first-edition statement, but subsequent printings noted.

Stanton & Lee. See Arkham House.

Frederick A. Stokes Co. No statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted.

Sun Dial. Reprint publisher.

Alan Swallow. No statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

Tower Books. See World Publishing Co.

Time Inc. / Time-Life Books. Until 1976, used a small hourglass design on the last page to designate the printing (i.e., one hourglass for the first printing, two for the second, etc.); since 1976, have stated the printing on the copyright page.

Triangle. Reprint publisher.

Trident Press. In our limited experience with this publisher, no statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

United Book. In our limited experience with this publisher, no statement on the first edition; subsequent printings presumably noted.

T. Fisher Unwin. Prior to 1914, no statement on the first edition. Since 1914, states "First published in (Year)" on the copyright page of the first edition.

Vanguard. No statement on first editions, and sometimes failed to note subsequent printings. In the 1970s, instituted a number row (but may have abandoned it in the mid-1980s)

Viking Press. Until the late 1930s, no first edition statement, but subsequent printings noted. In 1937, began stating "First Published by Viking in (Year)" or "Published by Viking in (Year)" on first editions, and continued the practice of noting subsequent printings. In the 1980s, added a number row to later printings only.

Villard Books. See Random House.

Vintage Books. See Random House.

Walker and Co. States "First Published ... (Year)" on first editions, and uses a number row to indicate subsequent printings.

Ward, Lock. Prior to the 1930s, generally placed the year of publication on the title page of first editions and removed it from subsequent printings. Beginning in the mid-1930s, generally stated "First published in..." on the copyright page of first editions.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Either states "First published in..." or no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings are generally noted.

Wesleyan University. States "First Edition" or ""First Printing" on first editions, and notes subsequent printings.

John Wiley & Sons. Prior to 1969, no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings noted. Have used a number row since 1969.

John C. Winston. Until the 1940s, no statement on either first editions or subsequent printings. Started stating the printing some time in the 1940s.

World Publishing Co. States "First Edition" or "First Printing" on the copyright page of the first edition. Note: World's "Tower Books" are reprints, with the exception of two Raymond Chandler first editions: Red Wind and Spanish Blood (both state "First Printing (Month, Year)".


The Quill & Brush was established in 1976 as an outgrowth of a part-time business run by Allen and Patricia Ahearn who started collecting and cataloging books in the early 1960s. The Ahearns have over 45 years of experience in the field. The Quill & Brush specializes in first editions of literature, mystery/detective fiction and poetry, as well as collectible books in all fields. Allen and Pat Ahearn are the authors of Collected Books: The Guide to Values (Putnam: 2002), and Book Collecting 2000 (Putnam: 2000).

The article is published on the www.qbbooks.com and is presented here by permission of the authors. Thank you very much.

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