London: Printed for A. Millar, 1749. Item #03436
The True First Edition of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones
Bound by The Guild of Women Binders
FIELDING, Henry. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes. London: Printed for A. Millar, 1749.
First edition, first issue, with the errata leaf (c8 recto) in Volume I and with the errata uncorrected.
Six twelvemo volumes (6 3/16 x 3 13/16 inches; 158 x 96 mm.). lxii, [1, errata], [1, blank], 214; , 324; , 370; , 312; , 294; , 304 pp. Bound without the final blanks in Volume I (K12), and Volume III (R12). With all of the cancels called for by Rothschild: B9 and B10 in Volume I; B4, B5, and N12 in Volume II; H8, H9, H10, M3, and Q11 in Volume III; and N8 in Volume V. Decorative woodcut tail-pieces.
Bound ca. 1900 by The Guild of Women Binders (stamp-signed on lower front turn-ins in full brown crushed levant morocco. Covers double-ruled in blind, spines with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in compartments, turn-ins ruled in blind, marbled end-papers, all edges gilt. With the maroon morocco armorial book-plate of Fleming Crooks on each paste-down. Front joint of volume one expertly and almost invisibly repaired.
Volume I, F6 & F7 (pp.107-110), neatly repaired in lower gutter and margins; Volume II, E8 (pp. 87/88) with a small marginal 'tape' repair, just touching a few letters on recto; Volume III, K3 (pp. 185/186) with a very small marginal tear; Volume IV, G5 (pp. 129/130) with a tiny marginal tear. Some mainly marginal and neatly repaired worm tracks affecting blank margins and a few letters on I 10 through O 12 (pp. 187 through end); Volume VI with a small neat repair to the blank lower corner of C 10 (pp. 35/36). The majority of the errata in volume one has been corrected in a neat contemporary hand. Despite the aforementioned minor flaws, this is a very nice copy of the real first edition in a very understated binding by the Guild of Women Binders.
“One of the three most perfect plots ever penned” (Coleridge).
For the story of the four editions published in 1749, see Cross II, pp. 120-125: “At first sight the second edition in six volumes differs from the first only in the absence of errata… Close inspection, however, reveals the story of what happened. The table of contents is re-spaced so as to extend into the page formerly given to the errata; the first volume has a new tailpiece; the title-page of the fifth volume ends in a misprint; and most, though not all, of the slips made by the author and compositor have been corrected, including, with two exceptions, those contained in the errata.” Cross concludes that the type was reset for the entire novel after the publication of the present edition, and that the next edition, sometimes called the “first edition, second issue,” is in fact a second edition.
The Guild of Women Binders, established by bookseller Frank Karslake, marketed bindings from 1898-1904.
Cross III, pp. 316-317. Grolier, 100 English, 48. Rothschild 850-851. Sterling 360.