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First Edition Identification

There is no one way to identify the first edition of a book. Each publisher has a different method of designating firsts (and they change it regularly, too). Use our guide to learn how to identify first editions from a variety of publishers.



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A


A. L. Burt

First editions of A.L. Burt reprints have a sequence of numbers with “1” present on the copyright page.

A. S. Barnes

First editions from A.S. Barnes either state “First American Edition (year)” on the copyright page or the same date must appear on the title page as appears on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Ace Books

First edition paperbacks from Ace have no additional printings listed on the copyright page, though the publisher used this method inconsistently. First editions hardbacks have the words "First Edition (month, year)" must appear on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with "1" present.

The Ace Doubles (bound tête-bêche) were issued until 1973 and have proven attractive to book collectors as well. Rare titles in mint condition command prices upwards of $1,000.

Adastra Press

First editions from Adastra Press state “First Edition” on the copyright page and also display the company colophon, which includes its own poet Mary Jane White's translation of New Year's: An Elegy for Rilke by Marina Tsvetaeva (2007).

Alfred A. Knopf

Until about 1933, first editions from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. had the same date on the title page and the copyright page or had no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. Around this time, first editions also sometimes stated "Published (Month or Year)" on the copyright page. Since about 1934, first editions have consistently stated "First Edition" with no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. Some 1970s titles, particularly children's books, have a sequence of numbers appears on the last printed page with "1" present in first editions.

Arion Press

First editions from Arion Press have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Arkham House

Through the late 1970s, Arkham House Publishers used a colophon, designed by Frank Utpatel in 1944, at the back of each book to indicate the edition. In the early 1980s, under James Turner, the publisher began stating "First Edition" and noting later printings on the copyright page.

Assouline Publishing

First editions from Assouline Publishing state “First Edition” on the copyright page, which may also have a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Atheneum

First editions published by Atheneum through 1986 state "First Edition" on the copyright page. First editions from the late 1980s on contain a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with "1" present.

Atlantic Monthly Press

Prior to 1925, Atlantic Monthly Press did not use a first edition statement or put the publication date on the title page of first editions and did not consistently list later printings on the copyright page. From the late 1920s through the 1930s, "Published (Month, Year)" on the copyright page with no additional printings listed indicated a first edition. Later on, "First Edition" was added above "Published (Month, Year)," but "Published (Month, Year)" remained on reprints and "First Edition" was removed. Since 1988, first editions from the Atlantic Monthly Press state "First Edition" and "First Printing" on the copyright page.

Avalon Books

Avalon did not normally reprint books. All editions can be assumed firsts unless there are additional printings listed on the copyright page.


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B. W. Huebsch

In first editions from B. W. Huebsch, the same date must appear on the title page as on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Ballantine Books

Hardcover first editions from Ballantine Books published before 1980 have no additional printings listed. Hardcover first editions published thereafter have either "First Edition” or "First Edition (month, year)" on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present. First editions of Ballantine paperback originals have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. All other paperback first editions from Ballantine have either “First Printing (month, year)” or “First Edition (month, year)” on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Beacon Press

Until 1959, first editions from Beacon Press had no additional printings listed on the copyright page. From 1960 through 1979, “First Published (year)” appeared on the copyright page of first editions. Thereafter, first editions have a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

Black Sparrow Press

In a first edition from Black Sparrow Press, the title page is in two or more colors, whereas the later printings have title pages in black only. Additionally, first editions have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Bloomsbury Publishing

First editions from Bloomsbury state either “First Published (year)” on the copyright page or “First US Edition (year)” on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Bobbs-Merrill

Early first editions from Bobbs-Merrill show a month only on the copyright page. In the 1920s, many titles showed "First Edition" on the copyright page. Around this time, a bow-and-arrow symbol on the copyright page also indicated a first edition, but not consistently. From 1936 on, first editions state either "First Edition" or "First Printing" on the copyright page.

Bodley Head

First editions from The Bodley Head state either "First Published (Year)" or "First Edition Published (Month, Year)" on the copyright page.

Bottom Dog Press

First editions from Bottom Dog Press have no additional printings listed.

Brentano's

First editions from Brentano’s US division published through 1927 have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. From 1928 and thereafter, first editions state either “First Edition” or “First Printing (year).”

 

First editions from Brentano’s UK division published through 1927 have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. From 1928 and thereafter, first editions state “First Printing (year).”

 

BT Batsford

First editions from BT Batsford had no additional printings until 1959. First editions thereafter have either “First Published (year)” or “First Printing (year)” on the copyright page.


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C


Calder

First editions from Calder state either "First Published (Year)" or "First Published in Great Britain (Year)” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Cassell & Co.

Prior to the early 1920s, Cassell 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, the company began stating "First Published (Year)" on the copyright page of first editions.

Caxton Printers

In first editions from Caxton, the same date must appear on the title page as on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Charles A. Scribner

Scribner's first editions printed through 1929 either have the same date on the title page and the copyright page or have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. First editions from 1930 to 1973 have an "A" on the copyright page. From 1974 on, a sequence of numbers appears on the copyright page with ?1? present in first editions.

City Lights Books

For early titles from City Light Books, first editions usually have no additional printings listed on the copyright page, but a bibliography may be required. Later titles either state “First Edition” on the copyright page or have no additional printings listed.

Collins

First editions from Collins have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. First editions from William Collins, Sons & Co. either have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page or state “First Published (Year)” on the copyright page.

Coward-McCann

Coward-McCann was not consistent in their practices for identifying first editions, but in general, subsequent printings are noted. From 1928 to 1935, the company sometimes 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. From 1936 on, first editions either have "First American Edition" on the copyright page of books published outside of the United States or have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.


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D. Appleton & Company

D. Appleton first editions from founding to 1901 have the same date on the title page and the copyright page. Beginning in 1902, the number "1" appears on the back page of a first edition book. After 1950, the "1" was used irregularly; however, additional printings were listed, so lack of additional printings after 1950 would indicate first edition.

Dawn Horse Press

First editions from Dawn Horse Press either state “First Edition” on the copyright page or have no additional printings listed.

Delacorte Press

First editions of early titles from Delacorte Press state "First Printing" on the copyright page with no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. The imprint now indicates first editions by the presence of "1" in a sequence of numbers on the copyright page.

Dodd, Mead and Company

Prior to 1976, first editions from Dodd, Mead and Company had no additional printings listed on the copyright page. First editions from late 1976 and thereafter contain a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

Doubleday & Co.

In general, the date on the title page should match last date on the copyright page of a first edition from Doubleday & McClure Co. Before the 1920s, first editions from Doubleday, Page & Co. had no statement. In the early 1920s, the company began stating “First Edition” on the copyright page, but may have not used any statement on books first published outside of the U.S. First editions from Doubleday, Doran & Co. as well as Doubleday & Co. state “First Edition” on the copyright page.


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E. P. Dutton

E.P. Dutton first editions published prior to 1929 have the same date on the title page and the copyright page with no additional printings listed. First editions published in the years following state either “First Published (year)” or “First Edition” on the copyright page as well. Those published in or after 1993 state “First Printing (month, year)” on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present. Under Penguin, first editions from the Dutton imprint have a sequence of numbers with “1” present on the copyright page along either “First Edition” or “First Printing (month, year).”

Easton Press

Despite working mostly in reprints, Easton Press produces several series of first editions and an occasional first edition volume; these are clearly identified as first editions typically on the spine, the title page, and the signature page.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. began stating "First Edition" on the copyright page sometime in 1933. (Although both were published in 1933, there is no statement of the first edition of Apache Devil, but Tarzan and the City of Gold states "First Edition" on the copyright page.)

Ernest Benn

First editions from Ernest Benn Ltd. state “First Published (year)” or “Published (year)” on the copyright page. Furthermore, the same date must appear on the title page as the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Eyre & Spottiswoode

First editions from Eyre & Spottiswoode state the year of publication under their name at the bottom of the title page or state “First Published (Year)” on the copyright page
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Faber & Faber, Ltd

Faber & Faber, Ltd.’s first editions state "First Published (Month, Year)" on copyright page. Prior to 1968, the year of publication was in Roman numerals; from 1968 on, they switched to Arabic numerals. Since World War II, the month has generally been omitted from the first edition statement. More recently, Faber & Faber added a number row to most publications with “1” present to indicate first editions.

Fantasy Press

First editions from Fantasy Press state "First Edition" on the copyright page with no additional printing listed.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publishing until 1964, first editions from Farrar, Straus and Co. either state “First Printing (year)” or have the FS symbol on the copyright page. As of 1965 on, first editions from Farrar, Straus and Giroux state either “First Printed (year),” “First Published (year),” “First Published (month, year),” “First Edition,” or “First Edition (year)” on the copyright page, possibly with a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

First Editions Library

An explanatory block of text appears on the facsimile copyright page of original FEL books. The “FEL” colophon appears on the lower part of the back jacket flap. However, the first three FEL titles produced — For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Great Gatsby, and Of Mice and Men — "FEL" was missing from on the back jacket flap on all first printings (2,500 copies of each titles).

Additionally, FEL titles originally contained a laid-in card of explanatory notes, including how the title came into being, background on the dedication, applicable issue points, the target copy from which the facsimile was produced, and some general notes about the book and its readership. However, Easton Press omitted the laid-in card in its 49 FEL titles.

Folio Society

Folio Society first editions can be identified by “First Edition (year)” on the copyright page or by having no additional printings listed.

Four Walls Eight Windows

First editions published by Four Walls Eight Windows either state "First Edition" and "First Printing" or "First Printing (month, year)" on the copyright page.

Franklin Library

First copies as well as signed first copies published by Franklin Library are "limited" to an unstated number of copies. Franklin Library did not produce reprints. Standard works have no indication of printings within an edition: all printings of the first edition carry the same identification; only second printings with changed or added material are indicated.

Franklin Watts

First editions from Franklin Watts are not easily identified; they may have the words “First Edition” or “First Published (month, year)” on the copyright page or the same date appearing on the title page as the copyright page with no additional printings listed along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Fulcrum Press

First editions from Fulcrum Press have a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

Funk & Wagnalls

Prior to 1929, first editions from Funk & Wagnalls had no additional printings listed on the copyright page and occasionally may have also stated “Published (month, year)” on that page as well. Beginning in 1929, Funk & Wagnall first editions stated "First published (month, year)" along with the Roman numeral "1" (I) on the copyright page. (Exception: The first edition of John Cheever's The Enormous Radio, published in 1953, has the Roman numeral, but not a first edition statement.)


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G


Gambit, Inc.

First editions from Gambit state “First Printing” on the copyright page.

George H. Doran

George H. Doran Co. generally placed a colophon with the initials "GHD" on the copyright page or the title of the first edition, but the company was not consistent in the practice until the early 1920s. First editions from Doubleday, Doran & Co. state "First Edition" on the copyright page.

Gnome Press

First editions from Gnome Press state “First Edition” on the copyright page; however, in offset reprints, the press occasionally kept the "First Edition" statement of the original publisher.

Grant Richards

First editions from Grant Richards have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Grolier Club

Grolier Club publications have no indication of printings within an edition. All printings of the first edition carry the same identification and only second printings with changed or added material are indicated.

Grosset & Dunlap

Though it was primarily a reprint house, some notable first editions have been published by Grosset & Dunlap, including: 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. First editions of Grosset & Dunlap originals state "First Printing" on the copyright page.


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H


Henry Pordes Books Ltd.

Following the death of Henry Pordes in 1998, the company was taken over by his daughter Nicole and his son-in-law Gino Della-Ragione. Today it remains an old-fashioned shop with old-fashioned methods but with modern awareness.

Henry T. Coates

First Editions from Henry T. Coates either display "Printed (Month, Year)" on the copyright page or have the same date on the title page and the copyright page with no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.

Heritage Press

Heritage Press editions are considered reprints or reissues of Limited Editions Club books. However, each edition from the Press originally came with its own Sandglass — a four-page pamphlet discussing the illustrator and the importance of the book. Because Heritage is no longer printing and the only source of the books is the secondary market, not many books available still have their Sandglass. Similarly, each title also came in a slipcase.

Hogarth Press

First editions from Hogarth Press have no additional printings listed on the title page.


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I


International Publishers

First editions from International Publishers either have “First Edition” or “First Printing (year)” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.


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J


John Day

First editions from John Day Co. generally have no statement on first editions and no additional printings indicated on the copyright page, though few publications may state "First Published (Month, Year)" on first editions. In the 1970s, the company began using a sequence of numbers on the last printed page with "1" present to indicate a first edition.

John Newbery

First editions from John Newbery have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.


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L


Lakeside Press / Lakeside Classics

All Lakeside Classics are considered to be first editions.

Limited Editions Club

Limited Editions Club does not reprint titles and always includes a colophon at the back of each book. Nearly all the titles are signed by the illustrator, and occasionally by the author or others.

Little, Brown

Prior to the early 1930s, Little, Brown made no statement on first editions, but subsequent printings were noted. In the 1930s, the company stated "Published (Month, Year)" on the copyright page of first editions; later printings were normally indicated. Since 1940, first editions state "First Edition" or "First Printing," and since the late 1970s, a sequence of numbers appears on the copyright page with "1" present in first editions.

Longmans, Green Co

Until the mid 1920s, first editions from Longmans, Green Co. have the same date on the title page and the copyright page or have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. Thereafter, first editions display "First Edition" or "First Published (Year)" on the copyright page.


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Martin Secker & Warburg

Prior to the 1940s, first editions from Secker & Warburg either had no statement or occasionally stated “First Published (year)” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed. In the 1940s, the company began stating “First Published (year)” on the copyright page of every first edition with no additional printings listed.

Merit Publishers

First editions from Pioneer Publishers have no additional printings listed.

Methuen & Co.

Prior to 1905, first editions from Methuen & Co. had no additional printings listed. Thereafter, first editions stated "First Published (year)" or "First Published in Great Britain (year)" on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Metropolitan Books

First edition from Metropolitan Books state “First Edition (year)” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Michael Joseph Ltd.

Since at least the mid-1930s, first editions from Michael Joseph Ltd. have either stated “First Published (year)” on the copyright page or have no additional printings listed. As of 1988, first editions include the aforementioned statement on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Modern Library

Since 1925, first editions published by Modern Library state "First Modern Library Edition" on the copyright page, followed by either the year of publication or a sequence of numbers with "1" present. The first-edition statement was occasionally left out in subsequent printings, but the presence of later-published titles within the book may help to identify it as a later edition.

Since the Modern Library series was founded in 1917, it has always had a distinctive colophon, which may also be helpful in first edition identification. Originally, it was the "BL" emblem of Boni and Liveright, which appeared on the base of dust jacket spine, the front book cover, and on the title page, with the words "Modern Library" above it. In 1925, Cerf and Klopfer commissioned Lucien Bernhard to design a new colophon: the Flying Torchbearer, representing the light of knowledge. Bernhard's colophon was redesigned several times over the years, most notably by Rockwell Kent.

Mysterious Press

First editions from Mysterious Press have “First Printing (month, year)” on the copyright page as well as a sequence of numbers with “1” present.


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Naval Institute Press

First editions from Naval Institute Press have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.

New Directions

First editions of early titles from New Directions require specific author bibliographies. First editions published from the late 1940s to 1969 have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. Binding variations can also be useful for first edition identification.

New York Graphic Society

First editions published by New York Graphic Society have "First Edition" or "First Printing" on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Nonesuch Press

First editions from Nonesuch Press have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.


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O


Olympia Press

First editions from Olympia Press have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Oxmoor House

First editions from Oxmoor House may have the words "First Published," possibly followed by (year), on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.


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Paladin Press

First editions from Paladin Press have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.

Pascal Covici

First editions from Covici-McGee state “First Printing” on the copyright page. First editions from Pascal Covici, Inc. occasionally have a statement, but are generally indicated by having no additional printings listed on the copyright page. First editions from Covici-Friede have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Pathfinder Press

First editions from Pathfinder Press have either the words "First Edition (year)" or "First Published (year)" on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Penn Publishing Company

First editions from Penn Publishing Co. have the same date on the title page and the copyright page, or, rarely, the date on the copyright page is one year later than the date on the title page with no additional printings listed.

Phaidon Press

First editions from Phaidon Press either have “First Published (Year)” on the copyright page or have no additional printings listed.

Philosophical Library

First editions from Philosophical Library have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.

Picador

First editions from Picador state either “Published (year)” or “First Published (year)” on the copyright page.

 

Pineapple Press

Pineapple Press first editions published before 1983 have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. First editions published thereafter state “First Edition” on the copyright along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Pioneer Publishers

First editions from Pioneer Publishers have no additional printings listed.

Progress Publishers

First editions published by Progress Publishers have "First Edition (year)" printed on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.


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R. R. Bowker

First editions from R.R. Bowker have no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

Real People Press

First editions from Real People Press have a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

Riverside Press

First editions from Riverside have the words "First Published (year)" on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Rizzoli International

In first editions from Rizzoli International, “First Edition” and “First Published (year)” appear on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Rodale Press

Through 1979, first editions from Rodale Press either have the words “First Printing” on the copyright page or no additional printings listed. Thereafter, first editions can identified by a sequence of numbers with “1” present.


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Shambhala

Through 1987, the copyright page of first editions from Shambhala Publications either read “First Printing” or “First Edition” or had no additional printings listed. Thereafter, Shambhala’s first editions can be identified solely by the words “First Edition” appearing on the copyright page.

Sheed & Ward

First editions from Sheed and Ward (US) have no additional printings listed on the copyright page. In first editions from Sheed and Ward (UK), “First Published (month, year)” appears on the copyright page.

Shire Publications

First editions from Shire Publications have “First Published (year)” printed on the copyright page.

 

Subterranean Press

First editions from Subterranean Press have a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present and no additional printings listed.

Sun & Moon Press

First editions from Sun & Moon Press either state “First Edition” or “First Edition Published (month, year)” along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.


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T


T. Fisher Unwin

First editions from T. Fisher Unwin prior to 1914 have no statement on first editions. First editions since 1914 state "First Published (Year)" on the copyright page.

Taschen

First editions from Taschen have a colophon.

Tauchnitz

It is incredibly difficult to identify a first edition from Tauchnitz as the publisher followed the unusual practice of retaining the first printing date on the title page of later printings, with no indication of the date of actual printing.

The Crime Club, Inc.

First editions from The Crime Club Inc. state “first edition” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

 

Additionally, Crime Club books were known for high-grade paper and quality binding with black cloth covers and blood-red text. However, the color scheme is reversed — red cloth covers with black text — in club members' monthly selections.

The Golden Cockerel Press

First editions from The Golden Cockerel Press have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page.

Ticknor & Fields

In first editions published by Ticknor and Fields as well as those by Wm. D. Ticknor and Co. and Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, the same date must appear on the title page and the copyright page with no additional printings listed.

Tor Books

First editions from Tor Books either have a sequence of numbers with “1” present or the words “First Edition (month, year)” must appear on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.


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Vanguard Press

First editions from Vanguard Press either have no additional printings listed on the copyright page or a sequence of numbers with “1” present.

Vintage Books

Vintage Books first editions have “First Edition” printed on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present.


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W. W. Norton

First editions from W.W. Norton state “First Edition” on the copyright page along with a sequence of numbers with “1” present. However, the publisher occasionally failed to remove the statement from subsequent printings.

Wesleyan University Press

Wesleyan University Press states either "First Edition" or "First Printing" on the copyright page of first editions and notes subsequent printings.

Wiley & Sons

Prior to the late 1960s, first editions from Wiley (& Sons) had no additional printings listed on the copyright page. Thereafter, first editions contain a sequence of numbers on the copyright page with “1” present.

William Blackwood

First editions from William Blackwood and Sons through 1980 have no additional printings indicated on the copyright page. Thereafter, "First Published (Year)" must appear on the copyright page.

Workers Library Publishers

First editions from Workers Library Publishers have “Published (month, year)” on the copyright page with no additional printings listed.



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What is a first edition?

A first edition is the first printed appearance (also known as printing) of a book. Sometimes this can also indicate the first printed appearance of a particular edition (for example: first illustrated edition or first UK edition). First editions of notable or important books are often highly sought after by book collectors.