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First Edition

Book collectors seek out first editions as they represent the original form in which a book was originally published.

Signed and inscribed copies are even more desirable, and the ‘dedication copy’ – the copy which is inscribed to the person to whom the author dedicated the book – is more sought after still.


 The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom

Pick of the week: Whisky travelogue in demand at auction

17 January 2022

In the early 1880s Alfred Barnard, secretary of Harper’s Weekly Gazette (the magazine that morphed into today’s Harpers Wine & Spirit), decided to visit all distilleries in Scotland, England and Ireland.

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Tolkien classic takes £46,000 in Dorset

29 November 2021

Among the book lots offered as part of an October 7-8 sale at Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) the earliest was a Burgundian ‘Hours of the Virgin’ manuscript.

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ATG letter: Second go at ‘first’ books terminology

22 November 2021

I have just received ATG No 2516 wherein the old question of first edition and first impression is raised in the Letters section.

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‘Surprizing’ Crusoe result in Oxford

08 November 2021

Top lot in a sale held by Mallams (25% buyer’s premium) of Oxford was a 1719-20, first edition set of 'The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe…', 'The Farther Adventures…' and 'The Serious Reflections…' in later but very smart bindings of red morocco gilt by Francis Bedford of London.

A Harry Potter book

ATG letter: First impressions count when it comes to books confusion

01 November 2021

I wonder if it could be explained to me why, in the currently fashionable world of ‘modern first editions’, there is a trend to link the words ‘first edition’ and ‘impression’ in the same sentence.

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The web shop window: Copy of Great Plague death list in unusually healthy condition

04 October 2021

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.

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Ghastly tales, joyful vendors

04 October 2021

Remarkably well-preserved 1818 Frankenstein and 1897 Dracula firsts impress in New York

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First edition of Ian Fleming’s 'Casino Royale' saved from a skip

20 September 2021

This first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale will be offered for sale by Scammell Auctions in Adelaide on October 11.

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Saleroom with a view on Forster

13 September 2021

Author’s works were well represented in London auction that included a £24,000 surprise

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First book-form edition of Middlemarch sets record at Doyle

30 August 2021

George Eliot’s much-admired novel 'Middlemarch…' made its first appearance in a parts issue in 1871.

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The web shop window: First edition of Ian Fleming’s 'From Russia With Love'

26 July 2021

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.

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The web shop window: Ada Lovelace's first-edition copy of key mathematical text

22 March 2021

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.

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Heinemann first edition of 'Present Laughter' by Noel Coward sold at Toovey's auction

01 February 2021

Signed by the author and all members of the cast, the stage manager and the props manager, a 1943, Heinemann first of 'Present Laughter' was one of two Noel Coward plays that made up a lot sold for £1600 via thesaleroom.com in a Toovey’s (24.5% buyer’s premium) auction.

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Very earliest Christmas Carol sold in Philadelphia

18 January 2021

There were, inevitably, a few copies of Charles Dickens’ much-loved tale, 'A Christmas Carol', on offer at auction as the big day approached.

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When art meets science

14 December 2020

Sixteenth century book-maker’s creativity makes maths and astronomy more accessible

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Peter Harrington's catalogue includes inscribed Rudyard Kipling first edition

14 December 2020

Peter Harrington’s Christmas 2020 catalogue features a selection of first and special editions such as this copy of 'Just So Stories' by Rudyard Kipling.

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Pick of the week: Rev Gilpin champions the Romantic ideal

30 November 2020

The artist, cleric, schoolmaster and author William Gilpin (1724-1804) is best known as a champion of the Romantic idea of the picturesque.

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Sticky situation is resolved

09 November 2020

An 1859 first of Darwin’s seminal work shrugs off condition issues to be a best-seller

First edition of Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' sells in New York

26 October 2020

A 1776 first of Adam Smith’s '…Wealth of Nations' sold in a New York summer sale bore an understandably irritated inscription by the man to whom it had been gifted by its author.

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Eye-opening images feature in German auction

12 October 2020

An October 27-30 sale of more than 2800 lots at Reiss & Sohn of Königstein-im-Taunus includes a 1583 first of Georg Bartisch’s Opthalmodouleia…, a famous work on eye surgery that is also the first extensively illustrated account of any surgical speciality.