London: Spencer Blackett, 1890. Item #04206
The Second Sherlock Holmes Story
'The Sign of Four'
An Exceptionally Fine Example in the Original Cloth
DOYLE, A[rthur] Conan. The Sign of Four. London: Spencer Blackett, 1890.
First edition in book form, second issue binding, with foot of spine reading “Griffith Farran & Co.s. Standard Library.”
Octavo (7 3/8 x 5 1/8 inches; 187 x 130 mm.). , 283, [1, blank] pp. Frontispiece by Charles Kerr, with tissue guard. With the numeral “138” on the contents page incomplete and reading “13,” as usual, and with “wished” appearing as “w shed” on p. 56, line 16. Small piece from lower corner of pp. 282/282 paper-fault? or torn away?
Publisher's dark red fine-ribbed cloth blocked in black with front cover and spine lettered in gilt. All edges uncut. Dark brown coated end-papers. Feint ink inscription dated 1892 on front free end-paper. Minimal rubbing to corners. By far the finest copy that we have ever seen. Housed in a felt-lined quarter red morocco clamshell case.
"The [remaining] sheets of the first edition were reissued by Griffith Farran and Company with the original [Spencer Blackett] title-page. The covers are the same though the imprint at the foot of the spine reads: "Griffith Farran & C.o.s/Standard/Library " Dark brown endpapers. Issued 1891. There are 8 pp. of publisher's advertisements in some copies, though not all. (Green & Gibson, p. 34).
The second Sherlock Holmes story after A Study in Scarlet (1888). At the time, it received only moderate success, but after the publication of the stories in Adventures (1892) and Memoirs (1894) its popularity soared.
Originally titled “The Sign of the Four; or, The Problem of the Sholtos,” this early Sherlock Holmes mystery was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Philadelphia, February 1890, and was first published in book form that October in London. The plot concerns Holmes’s investigation into the murder of Bartholomew Sholto, his search for Jonathan Small and the Agra treasure, and Watson’s romance with Mary Morstan.
Green and Gibson A7a.i.