First Edition Information by Publisher

The key to identifying first editions is recognizing that every text has its own print history.

In turn, there is no universal method for identifying first editions. It is up to the bookseller, cataloguer, and book collector to learn how to identify first editions on a case-by-case basis. Some of the more obsessive bibliophiles adore this fact. It means every copy must be scrutinized, studied, collated–that every copy has a mystery encoded in its material form. But for most folks, it’s just daunting. Learning all the material indicators of first editions could take a lifetime.

To help in this regard, we’ve put together a list of publisher-specific indicators that can go a long way in determining edition. Yet we also emphasize our first point: the key to identifying first editions is recognizing that every text has its own print history. It is therefore imperative that you do not rely solely on the information provided below. You must study the bibliographic history of your specific copies and texts in order to make final determinations about edition, printing, issue, and state. In other words, the information below should help narrow your determinations, but it should not be used to reach final conclusions.


List of Publishers:

A.L. Burt

A US-based publishing company from the 1880s to the 1930s. Published reprints and some first editions. Reprints are usually labelled on the title page and/or copyright page with phrases like “Published by arrangement with [insert original publisher]” or “Copyright, [insert date and original publisher”. Some first editions, especially from the 1910s onward, are stated on the copyright page. Others, especially if they are part of a series, must be determined by assessing advertisements in the front matter and dust jacket. Less is certain for A.L. Burt editions prior to the 1900s.

Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing

Also called Works Publishing and Alanon Publications. First editions and subsequent printings are stated on the copyright page.

American Publishing Company

An 1800s publishing house that was primarily subscription-based, but became famous for publishing Mark Twain first editions. No consistency in labelling first editions. There are usually numerous variants. See Twain bibliographers William McBride and Merle Johnson for case-by-case verifications. Outside Twain editions, little is known.

Appleton

An American publisher founded in the 1830s. They were first called D. Appleton & Co. Then in 1933 they merged with the Century Company to become D. Appleton-Century Co. Roughly 15 years later, they merged again with F.S. Crofts Co. to become Appleton-Century-Crofts. Finally, in the 1960s the company was absorbed by Prentice-Hall.

From the 1830s to 1901, their first editions are indicated by the same date on the title page and copyright page. From 1902 to roughly 1950, they indicated printing with a corresponding number on the foot of the last page in parenthesis or brackets (i.e., [1] for first printing, [2] for second printing, etc.). After 1950, their first printings are not labelled consistently, but subsequent printings would be, so that no printing number on the last page is an indication of first printing. Through the twentieth century, they would also occasionally state first printings on the copyright page, but not with any consistency. Finally, since the 1980s, they have adopted a number line on the copyright page to indicate printing and date.

Arco

A mid-twentieth century American publisher of non-fiction, games, and textbooks. No consistent indicators across editions.

Arkham House

A beloved twentieth century American publisher of science fiction, horror, and weird fiction. It was founded in 1939. It first published works by H.P. Lovecraft. In 1944, it began labelling first editions on its famous colophon. Then around 1980, it began stating first edition and/or later printings on the copyright page.

AS Barnes

An American publisher founded in the 1860s. It was family-owned until the 1910s. Through the mid-twentieth century, it was acquired by other publishers several times. In the nineteenth century, first editions were labelled with the same date on the title page and copyright page with no other printing statements present. Sometimes they also labelled “First American Edition” on the copyright page. From the 1910s to roughly 1980, there was no consistent practice. Then, around 1980, they began labelling first and later printings on the copyright page.

Atheneum

An American publisher founded in the 1950s. It has since been absorbed by Macmillan and then Simon & Schuster. First editions are stated on the copyright page. Since the 1980s, it has indicated printing with a number line on the copyright page as well.

Atlantic Monthly Press

The book publishing wing of Atlantic Monthly magazine. It was founded in 1917. Initially, it did not label first editions. Then around 1925, Little, Brown took over Atlantic Monthly Press. From then to roughly 1985, first editions were labelled in the same way as Little, Brown first editions: they stated “Published [month][year]” on the copyright page. Subsequent printings were usually labelled as well. Then in 1993, it merged with Grove Press and began using a number line.

Augsburg Publishing House

A Christian publishing house from the early-to-mid twentieth century. They published many Christian texts, Christmas and Easter Annuals, and other ephemera. No reliable practice for identifying first editions.

Avalon Books

Founded in 1950, Avalon Books was a relatively small publisher that specialized in science fiction. It was sold to Amazon in 2012. First editions are not explicitly labelled, but their copyright pages should list only the original year published with no mention of subsequent printings. The dust jackets often have ads for other Avalon Books publications which can also be used to confirm first editions.

Avon Books

A genre and comic book publisher founded in the 1940s. Initially, there was no consistent practice for labelling first editions. Sometimes, they can be inferred by the ads printed on paperback issues. But starting in the late 1970s, Avon Books began stating first editions with a number line on the copyright page.


Ballantine Books

An American publisher founded in 1952. It was purchased by Random House in 1973. First editions are labelled on the copyright page alongside month and date–except when they went straight to paperback issue, in which case later printings are labelled while first printings have no mention of printing at all.

Bantam

An American publisher founded in 1945. It has been acquired and resold many times. Since the 1990s, it has been owned by Random House. Edition identification has changed throughout its history. Prior to the 1980s, straight-to-paperback issues often have the original publisher month and date with no mention of subsequent printings. Then around the late 1970s or early 1980s, paperback issues began using number lines. So, too, did first edition hardcover issues. Sometimes, the ads on paperback issues or dust jackets can confirm first editions as well.

Beginner Books

The children’s book publisher founded by Phyllis Cerf and Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) in the 1950s. Random House initially handled only distribution, but then it purchased Beginner Books in 1960 and took over production as well. Some volumes will be labelled “first printing” on the copyright page. Others must be deduced by reviewing lists of previously published Beginner Book titles found on the dust jackets. If a title was first printed when Random House only handled distribution, it should have “Distributed by Random House” instead of “A Division of Random House” on the dust jacket. First editions of The Cat in the Hat–the first book ever produced by Beginner Books–will have only one gathering and “200/200” on the top-right corner of the front of the dust jacket.

Black Sparrow Press

Founded in 1966 in Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press famously published first editions by Charles Bukowski and other notable LA authors. In the early 2000s, it was sold to HarperCollins. Today it is run by Godine. First editions were often issued in paperback and hardcover. The hardcovers are often limited issues identifiable by their added colophons. First editions in general, though–whether paperback or hardcover–usually have two or more colors used in the printing of their title pages, whereas title pages in later printings are done in all black.

Blackwell

A British publisher founded by the Blackwell family of booksellers in Oxford in the late 1800s. By 1922, it was publishing under the name Basil Blackwell & Mott. Over the next several decades, it formed various publishing wings and merged with other publishers. It is most well-known for its scientific and scholarly publications. Most first editions across Blackwell’s various branches are identifiable when there is no mention of subsequent printings on the copyright page. Some books may also have “first published [date]” or just “published [date]” on the copyright page, but again with no other subsequent printings mentioned.

Bloomsbury

A British publisher founded in the 1980s. Bloomsbury saw tremendous growth after publishing the Harry Potter series. They use a number line and a statement “First Published [year]” to indicate first editions. However, many of the Harry Potter titles also have various issues and states that impact their value, so case-by-case valuations are necessary.

Bobbs Merrill

A US publisher founded in the 1850s and operating well into the twentieth century. Around 1936, they began stating “First Edition” or “First Printing” on the copyright page. Prior to that, they sometimes labelled first editions with a statement, or just the month of printing, or sometimes, their bow & arrow symbol. None of these earlier methods were applied with consistency.

Bodley Head

A British publisher founded in the 1880s. They grew in stature through the mid-twentieth century, acquiring several publishing houses along the way. Then in 1987, they were purchased by Random House. For the most part, their first editions are labelled on the copyright page with “First Published in [year]” or “First Published in Great Britain [year]” with no other printings mentioned. Yet their subdivisions sometimes kept other methods of edition labelling. Some of their earliest publications from the nineteenth century were published under the name “Elkin Mathews & John Lane” (Bodley Head’s founders). In these cases, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page. When they were acquired by Random House, they adopted a number line.

Book-of-the-Month Club

A subscription-based reprint company founded in the 1920s. It is often acronymized to BOMC. While BOMC editions often look nearly identical to first editions, they are most certainly reprints. Identifiers of BOMC editions include a small dot or geometric shape to the foot of the back board, cheaper paper and binding materials in general, no first edition or first printing statements, and no price on the dust jackets. Very rarely during the early part of their history, BOMC would acquire batches of first editions and issue them as part of the BOMC subscription. In these cases, these first editions will contain a BOMC slip or pamphlet laid in but would otherwise be considered first editions.


Calder & Boyars

Originally just Calder, an English publisher founded in 1949. By 1963, Boyars joined as partner and the name changed to Calder & Boyars. Then in the 1970s, Boyars left to start her own publishing house and the office went back to just Calder. When it was a joint venture (1963 to roughly 1975), they labelled first editions with “First Published in [year]” or “First Published in Great Britain [year]” with no subsequent printings or editions mentioned. Prior to that–when it was just Calder–they also sometimes labelled first printings with “First Printing [month] [year]”. Their limited first edition runs were also labelled “First Edition” with a limitation statement.

Cambridge University Press

One of the oldest and greatest publishers in the world. It is oldest university press. It is also the King’s Printer of England. As you could imagine, the indicators of its first editions throughout its 490-year history vary. In the twentieth century, it labels first editions with either “first edition”, “first printing”, “first impression”, “First Published [date]” or “Published [date]” with no subsequent printings mentioned. Prior to the twentieth century, there are no universal indicators.

Cassell & Co.

A British publisher established in the 1840s. In 1998, it was acquired by Orion Publishing. For most of its history, its first editions were identifiable when the title page showed the year of publication and the copyright page was blank, and no subsequent years or printings were listed. Then around 1920, they began printing “First Published [year]” on the copyright page.

Chapman & Hall

A British publisher founded in the 1830s. Chapman & Hall rose to prominence in the Victorian Era by publishing Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and others. In that time, its first editions would sometimes have “First Published [year]” on the copyright page or would otherwise be blank. Later printings were usually labelled. By the end of the twentieth century, Chapman & Hall had been merged, sold, and acquired several times, and through the process somehow became known for its math textbooks.

Chatto & Windus

Founded in the 1850s, it was absorbed by Jonathan Cape in the mid-twentieth century. No reliable practice for identifying first editions.

Chronicle Books

A San Francisco publisher established in the 1960s. It is known primarily for its children’s and coffee table books. It uses a number line on the copyright page.

Clarkson N. Potter

Founded in 1959, it was only independent for a short time (until 1963 when it was acquired by Crown Publishing). First editions are stated on the copyright page. They eventually adopted a number line as well.

Collier

The book publishing branch of Collier’s magazine (a notable nineteenth century magazine publishing American fiction, journalism, and illustrations). In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, first editions should have the correct year on the title page and/or the copyright page with no other printings mentioned. Then the 1930s, it was renamed Crowell-Collier and printed fewer books, focusing instead on magazines. Then in 1960 it merged with Macmillan, operating as the Collier Books imprint of Collier-Macmillan. In this period, first editions are labelled on the copyright page with no subsequent printings listed.

Collins

The longstanding English publisher (founded in the 1810s). It is now part of HarperCollins. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned.

Contact Editions

A small French publisher from the twentieth century that rose to prominence with the Modernist movement. Their limited editions are usually labelled on the colophon. First trade editions will have no later printings mentioned.

Covici Friede

A short-lived American publisher (1928 to 1937) that did not survive the Great Depression. Its first editions will have the correct year of publication with no later printings mentioned.

Coward, McCann & Geoghenan

Established in 1927 as Coward-McCann, it became an imprint of Putnam in 1936 and eventually added the name Geoghenan in the 1960s. It did not use an established practice for labelling first editions, but later printings were usually labelled.

Cresset Press

A London small press founded in 1927. Its limited illustrated editions were widely celebrated. Editions are labelled on the limitation page–sometimes found in the front matter or the colophon.

Crown

An American publisher founded in the 1930s. Today it is a subsidiary of Random House. In the 1970s, it began labelling first editions on the copyright page and adding a number line. From the 1930s to roughly 1970, it didn’t mark first editions, but later printings were labelled.


David McKay

An American publisher primarily known for comic books, but published some general fiction and nonfiction as well. First editions are not labelled, but subsequent printings should be noted. Around the 1970s, they began using a number line.

David R. Godine

An independent American publisher founded in the 1970s. They label first trade editions on the copyright page. Their limited editions are labelled on a colophon or limitation page.

Delacorte

An imprint of Dell Publishing. In the 1940s and 50s, they often stated “First Printing” on the copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned. But by the 1980s, they had begun to use a number line instead.

Determined Productions

A notable producer of Charles Schulz books and toys. Their Peanuts book series, starting with Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, will have the correct year of publication on the copyright page with no mention of later printings. Some books in the series must also have the correct color and design to their covers.

Dial Press

An American publisher founded in the 1920s. Over the century, it was merged and acquired many times. It is now an children’s book imprint of Penguin Random House. Until the 1960s, first editions will have the same date on the title page and copyright page. During this period, they occasionally labelled first printings on the copyright page as well. By the late 1960s/early 1970s, they began labelling “First Printing” consistently. By the 1980s, they had also adopted a number line.

Dodd Mead

An American publisher with a history that goes back to 1839. However, it did not establish the name Dodd Mead until 1870. Through the next century, it produced a wide range of texts. But by the early 1990s, it had gone defunct. Prior to 1976, it did not have a consistent practice for labelling first editions. Sometimes Dodd Mead would label later printings, but not always. In 1976, they adopted a number line.

Doubleday

Founded in the late nineteenth century, Doubleday is an American publisher that has undergone numerous evolutions, mergers, and acquisitions, yet remains a major imprint today under Penguin Random House. It began as Doubleday & McClure in 1897. Then about 1900, it became Doubleday & Page. In 1927, it became Doubleday, Doran & Co. Finally, in 1947, it became Doubleday & Co., or just Doubleday.

From 1897 to the 1920s, first editions will have the same date on the title page and the copyright page with no other printings mentioned. In the 1920s, it also began labelling some first editions on the copyright page, but not always. But by 1927, it began to state “First Edition” on the copyright page consistently. Throughout its history, if there are any later printings mentioned, it is not a first edition.

Doran

Founded in Canada in 1908, Doran quickly moved to New York and established itself as a major English-speaking publisher. In 1927, it merged with Doubleday to become Doubleday, Doran, & Co. This lasted until about 1947 when Doubleday dropped the Doran name. From 1908 to 1927, Doran usually labelled first editions with the initials “GHD” on a colophon or sometimes the title page. This indicator is fairly reliable, but be warned: there are some exceptions. When the company merged with Doubleday (1927), it began labelling first editions on the copyright page with statement “First Edition”.

Duell, Sloan and Pearce

An American publisher of fiction and general non-fiction. It was founded in 1939. In the 1950s and 60s, it underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions. By the mid-1970s, it was defunct. It labelled first editions with the Roman numeral “I”, or sometimes “First Edition.” Subsequent printings will have a corresponding Roman numeral or statement (“II” or “Second Printing”, “III” or “Third Printing”, and so on).

Dutton

E.P. Dutton began as a bookshop in the 1850s and became a major American publisher around 1869. Until about 1929, first editions will have no mention of subsequent printings and a corresponding date on the title page and copyright page. In the 1930s, it began stating “First Edition”, “First Printing”, or “First Published [year]” on the copyright page. Around the 1980s, it began using a number line as well.


Easton Press

An American publisher that is well-known for its leatherbound books with gilt stamping. They are based in Norwalk, CT. They’ve been around since the 1970s. They primarily do reprints of classic literature. Many of their volumes are sold as part of subscription series. But occasionally, they print signed limited editions and/or first editions. These editions will be clearly labelled as such on the copyright page, limitation page, or the spine of the book.

Ecco

An American publisher founded in the 1970s. It was acquired by HarperCollins in 1999. Throughout its history, it has stated “First Edition” or “First Published [year]” on the copyright page with no mention of later printings. In the 1990s, it also began using a number line.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

The personal publishing house of the famous genre author, Edgar Rice Burroughs. He founded it in 1923. In its first decade, it did not label first editions. Around 1933, it began stating “First Edition” on the copyright page.

Ernest Benn

A British publisher that established a book publishing focus in the 1890s. It did fairly well in the 1920s under the editorial leadership of Victor Gollancz. First editions are labelled with “First Published in [year]” on the copyright page and/or the correct year on the title page. Later printings are also labelled.

Estes & Lauriat

A Late Victorian Era American publisher known primarily for their annuals, subscription books, and illustrated books. They also published some limited editions. Their publishing branch went defunct in 1898, but they famously maintained their bookstore, carrying rare and antiquarian books. First editions will have the correct date on the title page and/or copyright page. Limited editions will also be labelled.

Eyre & Spottiswoode

A London publisher with roots going back to the eighteenth century. Yet it did not incorporate under the name Eyre & Spottiswoode until 1929. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or the copyright page. Later printings will be labelled as such.

Elzevir

House Elzevir was a longstanding and famous Dutch family who ran a bookshop and printshop. They operated from the late sixteenth century to the eighteenth century. Their duodecimo volumes are particularly appealing, but generally speaking, any books printed by House Elzevir are collectible. Their volumes will be labelled with the Elzevir name on the title page and/or their printer’s mark (the tree of knowledge with a wise man standing underneath it). They should not be confused with the academic publisher Elsevier. The latter took the older name and likeness, but otherwise they have nothing in common.


Faber & Faber

A London-based publisher founded in the 1920s. For a brief period (1925 to 1929), it operated under the name Faber & Gwyer. In this period, it labelled first editions with “First Published [year][month]”. Later printings were labelled accordingly. Then in 1929, it dropped Gwyer and became Faber & Faber. From 1929 onward, it stated first editions as “First Published[month][year]”. Between 1929 to 1967, the year was listed in Roman numerals. From 1968 onward, it was listed in Arabic numerals. In the last several decades, Faber & Faber also began implementing a number line.

Fantasy Press

An American publisher known for its fantasy and science fiction titles. It was founded in 1947 but only lasted until the mid-1950s. First editions are labelled “First Edition” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Originally just Farrar & Straus, this American publisher was founded in 1946. In 1950, it became Farrar, Straus, & Young. In 1955, Young was dropped and replaced by Giroux. Today it is a subsidiary of Macmillan. From 1946 to about 1964, first editions are either stated on the copyright page with “First Printing [year]” or they have the Farrar, Straus logo. From 1965 onward, they either state some combination of “First Edition” or “First Printing”–sometimes with year labelled, other times year and month. They also occasionally use a number line. In any case, subsequent printings are noted.

Farrar, Rinehart is another permutation of this publisher (operating from 1929 to 1946), but it is usually considered a different venture altogether. Farrar, Rinehart first editions are labelled by the publisher’s logo with no later printings mentioned. Occasionally, they would also state “First Edition” on the copyright page, but this is not consistent.

Fawcett

An American publisher from the twentieth century known for its comic books and the Gold Medal Books–original title straight to paperback. First editions and printings are indicated by a number line.

Folio Society

A London-based publisher founded in 1947 and still operating today. They primarily release reprints of classic literature and limited editions. Their editions are finely produced with exceptional illustrations. First editions are sometimes labelled with “First Edition,” “First Impression,” or “First Printing” on the copyright page or they have no later printings mentioned.

Four Seas

A small American press and bookstore operating in Boston from 1910 to 1930. It had a knack for elevating fresh literary talent, publishing early works by William Carlos Williams, Stephen Vincent Benet, and William Faulkner. First editions will have the correct year of publication on the title page and/or copyright page with no mention of later printings.

Four Walls Eight Windows

A New York publisher founded in 1987 and operating until 2004. It is sometimes called Four Walls or 4W8W. It primarily published literary fiction and general non-fiction yet some of its best contributions were science fiction (Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower in particular). First editions are labelled with “First Edition” or “First Printing” on the copyright page.

Franklin Library

A mostly subscription-based American publisher operating from the 1970s to 2000. It is known for its leatherbound and gilt stamped books with exceptional illustrations. Most of its titles are reprints of literary classics, but it also published many signed limited editions and limited first editions of contemporary author. Limited editions from the Franklin Library should be met with scrutiny, however, because they never list the size of the print run and so there is no way to know how many copies are part of these limited runs. There is also no way of deducing separate printings because they were unlabeled. Yet thankfully limited first editions of contemporary authors will be labelled on the spine and copyright page.

Funk & Wagnalls

An American publisher founded in the late 1800s. Through the 1960s to the 1990s, it was continuously acquired by various other publishers and eventually went defunct. Funk & Wagnalls was known for its reference works, but published a variety of titles over the course of its history. Until 1929, first editions had the correct date on the copyright page and/or title page with no subsequent printings listed. In 1929, they began labelling first editions with “First published [month][year]” and/or a Roman numeral “I” on the copyright page.


Gambit Inc.

A publisher of chess books founded in the 1990s. First editions are labelled with “First Printing” on the copyright page.

Garden City

A reprint branch of Doubleday established in mid-twentieth century. Their editions will look mostly identical to Doubleday first editions except they will have the Garden City statement on the title page and/or copyright page. They will also lack the Doubleday first edition indicators. They also tend to be printed on cheaper paper.

Gnome Press

An American publisher in operation from 1948 to 1962. It was known primarily for its science fiction titles. It published works by the Big Three (Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke), among others. First editions are labelled with “First Edition” on the copyright page.

Golden Gryphon Press

An independent American publisher of science fiction and fantasy. They operate out of Urbana, IL. They were founded in 1996. First editions are labelled “First Edition” on the copyright page.

Grand Central Publishing

When Warner Books was purchased by Hachette in 2006, it became Grand Central Publishing. First editions will have “First Edition” on the copyright page as well as a number line.

Grant Richards

A British publisher who established his independent publishing house in 1897. In the 1920s, the name was changed to Richards Press. Grant Richards famously published the first edition of Dubliners by James Joyce. First editions are not labelled, but they can be identified as long as no subsequent printings are mentioned on the copyright page.

Grosset & Dunlap

An American publisher founded in the 1890s. It was acquired by Putnam in the 1980s. Today it is part of Penguin Group. Most of its titles are reprints, but there are several notable exceptions. First editions are labelled “First Printing” on the copyright page.

Grove

An American publisher founded in 1947. In 1993, it merged with the Atlantic Monthly Press. It is now an imprint of Grove/Atlantic. First editions are labelled on the copyright page. So, too, are later printings. Editions from the late twentieth century onward will also have a number line. Grove also labels dust jacket printings. First printings of dust jackets will lack a letter code on the back panel. Later printings of dust jackets will have this letter code which reads as “ii” for second printings, “iii” for third printings, and so on.

Gryphon Editions

An American publisher that primarily releases leatherbound reprints and facsimiles of classic books on law, science, history, and political thought. They were founded in the mid-twentieth century. They are subscription-based. Their editions are comparable to the Easton Press or the Franklin Library except they have a more stringent focus on non-fiction and a decidedly more conservative list of titles. They do not produce subsequent editions of their titles, but they also do not list printings.


Hamish Hamilton

A London-based publisher founded in the 1930s. It operated independently until the 1960s. Today it is a division of Penguin Random House. First editions are labelled “First published [year]” or “First published in Great Britain in [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the late 1980s, they also began using a number line.

Harcourt

A major American publisher in the twentieth century. It was founded in 1919. Over the decades, it evolved through various mergers, acquisitions, and new divisions. In 2007, it was acquired by Houghton Mifflin, forming Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).

From 1919 to 1921, it was called Harcourt, Brace & Howe. In this period, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometimes they also labelled first printings with an isolated “1” on the copyright page. Later printings will also sometimes show the isolated number changed to their corresponding printing (i.e., “2” for second printing, “3” for third printing, and so on). In any case, though, later printings are labelled.

From 1921 to 1960, they operated under the name Harcourt, Brace & Co. In the first decade (1921 to 1931), they did not label first editions. Then, around 1931, they began adding “First Edition” or “First American Edition” to the copyright page. This practice was maintained until 1960. They also labelled subsequent printings on the copyright page and/or the first edition statement was removed. In the 1940s, they also began adding an isolated “1” to first printings, but this was not a consistent practice.

From 1960 to 1970, they were called Harcourt, Brace & World. In this period, they labelled first editions with “First Edition” or “First American Edition” on the copyright page.

From 1970 to the 1990s, they operated under the name Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. Throughout this period, first editions were labelled “First Edition” or “First American Edition” on the copyright page. They also used a letter code to label printings. From 1973 to about 1983, this letter code will read “BCDE” for first printings, “CDE” for second printings, “DE” for third printings, and so on. Then, sometime in late 1982 or 1983, they added an “A” to the letter code to indicate first printings. So, from about 1983, first printings will have “ABCDE” on the copyright page, second printings will have “BCDE”, and so on.

Harper

a major American publisher founded in the nineteenth century. Since its conception in 1817, it has grown and evolved tremendously, but remains one of the dominate publishers today (now HarperCollins).

From 1817 to 1833, it went by the name J&J Harper. In this period, first editions will have the correct year on the title page with no other publishers or printings mentioned.

From 1833 to 1962, it operated under the name Harper & Brothers. Until about 1912, first editions will have the correct date on the title page and copyright page with no other printings mentioned.

Then, in 1912, they introduced a letter code for the month and year of printing. It should be noted that month and year of printing was usually before the official date of publication (i.e., when the copies were released). Most bibliographers consider 1949 the last year they used this letter code. However, we have seen examples of it in editions printed as late as 1968. The code is as follows:

MONTHLETTER
JanuaryA
FebruaryB
MarchC
AprilD
MayE
JuneF
JulyG
AugustH
SeptemberI
OctoberK
NovemberL
DecemberM
YEARLETTER
1912M
1913N
1914O
1915P
1916Q
1917R
1918S
1919T
1920U
1921V
1922W
1923X
1924Y
1925Z
1926A
1927B
1928C
1929D
1930E
1931F
1932G
1933H
1934I
1935K
1936L
1937M
1938N
1939O
1940P
YEARLETTER
1941Q
1942R
1943S
1944T
1945U
1946V
1947W
1948X
1949Y
1950Z
1951A
1952B
1953C
1954D
1955E
1956F
1957G
1958H
1959I
1960K
1961L
1962M
1963N
1964O
1965P
1966Q
1967R
1968S

Note also that they skipped the letter J for no discernable reason. The letter code usually appeared on a centered line on the copyright page. Less often it appeared in the gutter of the copyright page. That is, it will usually look like this:

A-T

Or this:

A-T

The “A-T” example translates to “January-1919” or “January-1944”.

Also, around 1922, they began stating “First Edition” along with the letter code. So, first editions will be labelled like this on the copyright page:

First Edition

A-T

Or this:

First Edition                                                                         A-T

In 1962, they also merged with Row, Peterson & Co. to become Harper & Row. Under this new title, they maintained the letter code until 1969. Then, from that year until the mid 1970s, they instead used a number line that was usually found in the gutter of the last page (before the free endpaper). This number line beginning with number “1” plus “First Edition” on the copyright page will subsequently infer first edition, first printing.

Then, around 1975, they moved the number line to the copyright page. They maintained this practice through the 1980s.

In 1990, Harper & Row was merged with Collins to create HarperCollins. Under the HarperCollins name, first editions will have “First Edition” on the copyright page and a number line for printing and year of publication.

Harry N. Abrams Inc.

An American publisher founded in 1949. For most of the twentieth century, they focused on artists’ books. They have been acquired and resold several times. Today they are owned by the French publisher Média-Participations. We have not been able to establish consistent practice. Different divisions of Harry N. Abrams Inc. seemed to use different methods to label edition and printing. For example, many artists’ books, especially prior to the 1990s, will have no mention of printing or edition. Others will state “First Edition” with a number line out of sequence. In the late-1990s and 2000s, they began using a number line on the copyright page, but even then, there are exceptions.

Hart-Davis, MacGibbon Limited

A London-based publisher founded in 1972. It was formed by its parent company, Granada, by combining Hart-Davis and MacGibbon & Kee imprints. In the 1980s, it was acquired by Collins. First editions will have “First Published in [year]” or “First Published in Great Britain [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Harvard University Press

Known primarily for academic texts, it has been in operation since 1913. First editions will have the correct year of publication on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned. In the 1980s, they also began using a number line, but not consistently.

Hachette

A well-established French publisher founded in the 1820s. For the past two centuries, it has absorbed many other publishers. Today it is one of the largest international publishing companies with imprints all over the world. Edition points vary tremendously across their imprints and their history. Today they state “First Edition” on the copyright page along with a number line to indicate printing.

Heritage Press

The reprint publisher of the Limited Editions Club (LEC). The LEC began in 1929. It was founded by George Macy as a subscription-based fine press. They issued limited illustrated editions, usually signed by the illustrator. LEC books are highly collectible. In 1935, LEC began reprinting their editions through the Heritage Press. Therefore, all Heritage Press titles should be considered reprints.

Yet Heritage Press books are still appealing for their exceptional illustrations, craftsmanship, and titles. Heritage Press books were issued in slipcases. They also had Sandglass pamphlets laid in. They look nearly identical to their LEC counterparts, but without the limitation pages and often with slightly cheaper materials.

Hikarinokuni Publishing

A small Japanese publisher founded after WWII. They primarily produce illustrated books, children’s books, and magazines. They state “First Edition [year]” on the copyright page.

Hodder & Stoughton

A British publisher established in the mid-nineteenth century. Today they are an imprint of Hachette. Prior to the 1940s, first editions will have the correct year of publication on the title page and/or copyright page. Sometimes it is printed in Arabic numbers, other times with Roman numerals. They did not consistently label subsequent printings, however. Then in the 1940s, they began labeling first editions with “First Printed [year]” on the copyright page. Over the decades, they continued this practice but with some variation of the statement. Sometimes, it reads: “First printed in Great Britain [year]”. Other times, it reads: “This edition first published in Great Britain by Hodder & Stoughton [year]”. By the mid 1990s, they began using a number line as well.

Hogarth Press

The beloved publishing house of Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard. It was founded in 1917. It is known for publishing most of Virginia Woolf’s titles, major works on psychoanalysis, and other major works of the Modernist Movement. Today it is an imprint of Penguin Random House. First editions are not labelled, but subsequent printings will be noted on either the title page and/or copyright page.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston

This American publisher was formed in 1960 when Holt & Co. and Rinehart & Co. merged. Then in 1985, it was divested, with parts going to Reed Elsevier and others going to Harcourt. The Harcourt portion, however, maintained the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston name. Then, in the 2000s, it was combined with another publisher to form Holt McDougal. In its first decade, Holt, Rinehart and Winston stated most first editions on the copyright page, unless they were printed outside the United States. In the 1970s, it began universally labelling first editions on the copyright page with a statement and a number line.

Holt & Co.

An American publisher founded in the mid-nineteenth century. In the 1960s, it merged with Rinehart & Co. to become Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Then it went back to just Holt & Co. in 1985. Until about 1945, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned. In the mid-1940s, they began labelling first editions on the copyright page. In 1985, they added a number line.

Houghton, Mifflin

A longstanding American publisher founded in the nineteenth century. It was formed out of the merger of James Osgood and Ticknor & Fields in the 1870s. Until the 1950s, first editions will have the correct year on the title page. Subsequent printings will drop the year from the title page or change it to fit their year of publication. In the 1950s, they began labelling first editions with “First printing” on the copyright page. In the 1970s, they began using a number line on the copyright page.

Horizon Press

A New York independent publisher from the mid-twentieth century. It published emerging authors and artists’ books. It went defunct in the mid-1980s. First editions will have the correct year of publication on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Hutchinson & Co.

A British publisher founded in the late-nineteenth century. It operated independently until the 1980s. First editions will have the correct year of publication on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Hyperion Books

A book publishing branch of Disney founded in the 1990s. In the 2010s, it was acquired by Hachette, but Disney retained some titles under the Disney-Hyperion imprint. For the most part, they labelled first editions with “First Edition” and a number line of the copyright page. Some of their children’s books, however, will omit the number line on first printings.


Imprint Society

A small, subscription-based press operating out of Barre, Massachusetts in the mid-twentieth century. All of its editions are limited editions. They will state their limitation on the colophon or a limitation page.

International Collector’s Library

A book club series operated by Doubleday and their subsidiary, Garden City. International Collector’s Library volumes are reprints, not first editions.


Jonathan Cape

A successful London publisher founded in 1921. Over the decades, it merged with several other publishers. First editions will have “First published [year]” or “First published in Great Britain [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In 1987, it was acquired by Random House. Around that time, it also began adding a number line.

In the late 1920s, it founded an American branch called Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith. The name quickly changed to Jonathan Cape & Robert Ballou. This branch was short-lived, closing in the mid-1930s. First editions will state “First published [year]” or “First published in America [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

John Day Co.

An American publisher known for its illustrated books. It was founded in 1926. In the 1970s, it began using a number line on the last page. Prior to the 1970s, it did not follow any consistent practice. Sometimes, first editions were labelled with “First Published [month][year]”.  Other times, they were not labelled, but later printings are usually noted.

John Lane

A British publisher and co-founder of The Bodley Head. Most of his publications were under Bodley Head or Elkin Mathews & John Lane (see note for Bodley Head in these cases). Yet some titles from the twentieth century are published under just “John Lane” or “John Lane & Co.” Until the mid-1920s, these John Lane first editions are not labelled unless they are limited editions, but later printings are listed on the copyright page. In the mid-1920s, first editions began stating “First published in [year]” or “First published in [month][year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

John Wiley & Sons

A major American publisher that has grown tremendously since its inception in the early nineteenth century. Today it operates under the name Wiley and focuses primarily on academic publications. Until the 1960s, it did not label first editions, but later printings were mentioned on the copyright page. Then in 1969, they began using a number line.

John C. Winston

A Philadelphia-based publisher founded in the 1880s. It went defunct about 1960. Prior to the 1940s, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned. They may also have a label that reads “Published [month][year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. By the mid-1940s, however, they consistently labelled first editions with “First edition” on the copyright page.


Knopf

An American publisher founded in 1915. It was acquired by Random House in 1960. Today it is an imprint of Penguin Random House. From its inception to about 1933, first editions will have the same date on the title page and the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometimes (but without consistency), they also added “Published [month][year]” on the copyright page. By 1934, however, they labelled first editions with “First Edition” on the copyright page. In the 1970s, they also added a number line to the last page of some titles, especially children’s books. In some cases, they also add pre-publication printing statements that read something like this: “Second printing before publication.” These indicate their labelled printing despite being “before publication”; that is, they are not first printings.

Koeki Printing Co.

A small Japanese publishing house that released some notable artists’ books after WWII. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned.


Leo Hart

An American publisher of fine press books, illustrated editions, and limited editions. It was founded in 1905 and operated as the Leo Hart Printing Company or just Leo Hart until the 1950s. Limited editions will have a limitation page or colophon. First trade editions will have the correct year on the title page. They may not have indicated later printings on the trade editions.

Limited Editions Club (LEC)

A notable subscription-based fine press operating from 1929 until the 1960s. It was the project of George Macy. It is probably the most famous fine press of the twentieth century. It only produced limited editions. They are labelled on a colophon, often with the illustrator’s signature (less often the author’s signature). The Heritage Press is the reprint publisher of the Limited Editions Club.

Lippincott

An American publisher with origins in Philadelphia in the 1830s. It began as J.B. Lippincott & Co. Briefly, in the 1850s, it went by the name Lippincott, Grambo & Co. But by the 1880s, it was called J.B. Lippincott Company. This name lasted until the 1970s, when it became an imprint of Harper & Row. They merged Lippincott with another imprint to form Lippincott and Crowell. Then, in the 1990s, it was acquired by a Dutch publisher and became Lippincott-Raven. The name changed again soon after to become Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Nineteenth century first editions should have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the mid 1920s, they began labelling later printings on the copyright page. At this time, they also began adding a “First Edition” statement to the copyright page to most titles, but there are exceptions. When they were acquired by Harper & Row (1970s), it became consistent practice to label first editions with a number line on the copyright page. This remained true under the Lippincott and Crowell imprint.

Little, Brown

A major American publisher founded in Boston in the 1830s. It was acquired by Time Inc. in 1968. Today it is an imprint of Hachette. In the nineteenth century, first editions should have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometime in the 1930s, they began labelling first editions with “Published [month][year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Around 1940, they began labelling first editions with “First Edition” or “First Printing” on the copyright page. In the 1970s, they added a number line.

Liveright Publishing Corp.

An American publisher founded in 1917. Initially, it was called Boni & Liveright. It changed its name to Horace Liveright Inc. in 1928, then just Liveright Inc. in 1931. Today it is an imprint of Norton under the name Liveright Publishing Corporation. It is worth noting that Liveright was the founding publisher of the Modern Library, a popular imprint that ended up with Random House in the mid 1920s.

Liveright first editions were not consistently labelled prior to the 1970s. Sometimes they had a first edition statement, but usually not. However, later printings were always mentioned. Today first editions are labelled “First Edition”. Today they also use a number line.

Longmans, Green Co.

A London publisher founded in 1724. It operated independently until 1968 when it was purchased by Pearson. Today it operates as the imprint Pearson Longman. Over the centuries, it had numerous name variations. They include: T. Longman; Osborn & T. Longman; T. Longman and T. Shewell; T. and T. Longman; M. & T. Longman; T.N. Longman; Messrs. Longmand & Rees; T.N. Longman & O. Rees; Longman & Rees; Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green; Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green; Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans; Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans; Longman, Orme & Co.; Longman, Brown & Co.; Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans; Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans and Roberts; Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts; Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green; Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer; Longmans, Green & Co.; and Longmans.

Through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, first editions will consistently show the correct date on the title page and/or copyright page. Starting sometime in the 1920s, first editions were labelled with either “First Published [year]” or “First Edition” on the copyright page. Later printings around this time are usually mentioned, too.


Macaulay Co.

A New York publisher founded in the 1900s and operating until the late 1930s. They did not label first editions, but later printings are listed on the copyright page.

ManRoot

A California small press operating in the 1970 through the 1980s. It primarily published books of poetry in wrappers. First editions are either labeled on a limitation page or on the copyright page with “Printed in [month][year] in [city][state] in an edition of [###] copies”.

Macmillan

A major British publisher founded in the 1840s. In the twentieth century, it grew to become one of the largest international publishers. Its national branches–Macmillan Co. (UK), Macmillan Co. (US), and Macmillan of Canada–followed their own first edition identification practices. But prior to the 1900s, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. From the 1920s, Macmillan Co. (UK) labelled first editions with “First Published [year]” on the copyright page. Macmillan Co. (US) used the same label until the 1930s when they switched to “First printing” on the copyright page. In the 1970s, they also added a number line. Finally, Macmillan of Canada did not label first editions.

Martin Secker & Warburg

A British publisher from the first half of the twentieth century. Initially, it was just Martin Secker. He merged his business with Frederick Warburg in 1935, forming Secker & Warburg. Then the firm became an imprint of Heinemann in 1951. Before the 1940s, first editions were not labelled, but later printings were usually listed on the copyright page. Sometime in the 1940s, they began labelling first editions with “First Published [year]” on the copyright page.

McClelland & Stewart

A Canadian publisher founded in the 1900s. It operated independently through the twentieth century. Then, in the year 2000, it was divested to Random House of Canada and the University of Toronto. By 2011, it was owned entirely by Random House. From the 1900s to the 1980s, it did not label first editions, but later printings will be listed on the copyright page. In the 1990s, it began using a number line on the copyright page.

McClure, Phillips & Co.

An American publisher founded about 1900 when McClure broke away from Doubleday and partnered with Phillips. This was short-lived, however. By 1908, McClure, Phillips & Co. was divested, with Doubleday purchasing most of their titles. First editions were not consistently labelled. Sometimes, they would state “First published [month][year]” on the copyright page, but not always. Later printings are labelled with a printing statement or a later date on the copyright page.

McGraw-Hill

A major American publisher of educational books and textbooks. It was founded in 1909 when the McGraw Publishing Company and the Hill Publishing Company merged. Through the twentieth century, it acquired a staggering number of educational publishers and services. From 1909 to the 1950s, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometime in the 1950s, they began labelling first editions with “First Edition” on the copyright page. In this period, they also included a five-digit number code, but we have not been able to deduce what it indicates. In the early 1970s, however, they began using a clear number line as well.

Methuen & Co.

An English publisher founded in the late-nineteenth century. From 1905 to the 1990s, it was an imprint of Associated Book Publishers. About 1998, however, parts of its catalogue were divested to Random House and Egmont Group. At the same time, Methuen bought itself out to continue publishing independently. Until 1905, first editions are not labelled, but later printings were listed. From 1905 onward, they labelled first editions with “First published in [year]” or “First published in Great Britain [year]” on the copyright page.

Metropolitan Books

An imprint of Holt & Co. established in the mid-1990s. They use a number line and state “First Edition [year]”or “First American Edition [year]” on the copyright page.

Modern Library

A popular reprint series established by Boni & Liveright around 1917. In 1925, it was acquired by Random House. They are not first editions, but some collectors focus on Modern Library titles. From 1917 to 1925, first Modern Library editions can sometimes be identified by the signature emblem which appears on the dust jacket spine, the front cover, and the title page and a lack of later titles advertised anywhere on the book. From 1925 onward, they state “First Modern Library Edition” on the copyright page alongside either the correct year or a number line. One must also review advertisements after 1925. If any later titles appear, they will indicated a later printing or later issue dust jacket.


Naval Institute Press

The publishing branch of the U.S. Naval Institute. It was founded in the late 1800s. It primarily publishes historical texts and Navy education materials. It has also succeeded with some popular fiction, most notably The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Through most of the twentieth century, first editions were not labelled, but later printings were listed on the copyright page. In the 1990s, it began labelling first printings with a “First printing” statement and a number line that ended with 1. Yet in confusing fashion, they sometimes leave the “First printing” statement on second printings, and so the number line should be the point of clarification for first printings.

New American Library (NAL)

An American publisher founded in the 1940s. Today it is an imprint of Penguin Random House. It had a prolific reprint imprint in Signet Books, but many NAL titles were hardcover originals. These original first editions are labelled with “First printing” on the copyright page. Sometime in the 1980s, they began using a number line.

New Directions

An American publisher founded in 1936. It remains an independent publisher today. In its first decade, it did not consistently label first editions or later printings. In some cases, binding variants can be used to deduce printing and edition. From the late 1940s onward, first editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Today they also use a number line.

New English Library (NEL)

A British publisher founded in 1961. It became the English counterpart of the New American Library (NAL). In the mid 2000s, it went defunct. First editions are labelled with “First published in Great Britain [year]” or “First published by New English Library in [year]” on the copyright page.

New York Graphic Society

An American publisher that began as an art distributor in the 1920s. By 1958, it expanded its business to include artists’ books. In 1966, it was purchased by Time, Inc. and broadened its scope to include museum books. First editions are labelled with “First Edition” or “First Printing” on the copyright page. Later printings are usually labelled as well.

NESFA Press

The official publishing branch of the New England Science Fiction Association. It was founded in the 1970s and remains an independent publisher today. First editions are labelled with “First Edition” on the copyright page.

Nonesuch Press

A British private press founded in 1922. In its first two decades, it produced dozens of editions with high collectible value. It continued to operate into the 1960s. First editions will have no later printings mentioned on the copyright page.

Norton

A New York publisher also called W.W. Norton. It was founded in the 1920s. It has published numerous original texts, but it is probably more well-known today for its anthologies and collected works. First editions are labelled with “First Edition” on the copyright page, but later printings are not indicated. Sometime in the 1960s, though, it added a number line to indicate printing.


Ottenheimer

An American publisher out of Baltimore. They were founded in 1890. They went defunct in the early 2000s. They were known mostly for children’s books, parlor games, cookbooks, magazines, and educational texts or manuals. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. The year is sometimes in Arabic numbers, other times Roman numerals. In some cases, reviewing advertisements is required to deduce printing.

Oxford University Press

A centuries’ old academic press. Its story truly begins in the fifteenth century, but it was not officially registered until the late sixteenth century. It primarily publishes academic texts. Prior to the twentieth century, first editions need specific bibliographic verification. The correct year on the title page and copyright page is useful, but not enough information in many cases. In the twentieth century, they did not label first editions, but later printings are mentioned. In the 1980s, they also began using a number line.

Oxmoor House

An American publisher founded in the 1970s. It operated out of Alabama. It primarily published cookbooks, craft books, and other hobby books. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.


Pantheon Books

An American publisher founded in 1942. In 1961, it was purchased by Random House where it remains an imprint. Until 1964, first editions were not labelled, but later printings are listed on the copyright page. From 1965 onward, they have labelled first editions with a variety of statements, including “First Printing,” “First Edition,” and “First American Edition.” In the late 1980s, they also adopted a number line.

Peter Pauper Press

A small American press founded in 1928. It primarily publishes classic reprints and illustrated editions. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Peter Owen

A small London publisher founded in 1951. It remained an independent publisher until 2022 when it was purchased by Pushkin Press. First edition are labelled with “First Published by Peter Owen [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Philomel

A children’s book publisher founded in the 1980s. Today it is an imprint Penguin Random House. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page and a number line.

Princeton University Press

The academic press of Princeton University. It was founded in the 1900s. It primarily publishes academic series and academic monographs. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Putnam

An American publisher founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Also called G.P. Putnam’s Sons. It operated independently until the 1990s when it was acquired by Penguin Group. Through the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Then in 1985, they began using a number line.

Poseidon

A relatively short-lived imprint of Simon & Schuster. They operated from 1982 to 1993. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page and a number line.


Random House

An American publisher founded in 1927. It has grown to become one of the largest book publishers in the world (if not the largest). Today it operates under the name Penguin Random House. In its first several years, Random House did not consistently label first editions, but if the year on the title page and/or copyright page is correct and no other printings are mentioned, it is likely a first edition. Then sometime in the 1930s, they began consistently labelling first editions with either “First printing” or “first edition” on the copyright page. This practice continued through the twentieth century, but with variations, including “Random House first edition” or “First trade edition.”

In 1970, they implemented a number line that began with the number 2 on first printings. This idiosyncrasy lasted until about 2003. From then onward, they began their number lines with the number 1.

Reilly & Lee

Originally operated under the name Reilly & Britton. It was founded 1904 and became Reilly & Lee in 1918. They primarily published children’s books, fairy tales, and famously, Oz books. First editions and subsequent printings are not consistently labelled. Printings usually need to be deduced from binding variants and/or illustration variants.

Reynal & Hitchcock

An American publisher founded in 1933. It was purchased by Harcourt, Brace in 1948. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Rinehart

An American publisher operating from 1946 to 1960. It came into being when Farrar & Rinehart dissolved. It ceased to be just Rinehart or Rinehart & Co. when it merged with two other publishers to form Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. First printings will have the Rinehart emblem (a circle with an R in the middle) on the copyright page. This printer’s mark was removed from later printings.

Riverhead

An imprint of Penguin Group. It was founded in 1994. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page and a full number line.

Riverside Press

An American publisher founded in 1852. From its inception, it’s been closely intertwined with Houghton Mifflin, but wasn’t outright owned by them until 1979. Today it operates under the name Riverside Insights and primarily publishes educational and testing materials. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. If Houghton Mifflin is also listed as a publisher, it is usually best to refer to their edition indicators.

Robert McBride

An American publisher from the early twentieth century. He began publishing notable magazines in the 1900s. Around 1912, he began publishing books. At first, the company was called McBride, Nast & Co. In 1915, it became just Robert M. McBride & Co. This lasted until 1948 when company was purchased by Outlet Book CO., but continued as an imprint called Medill-McBride. Today it is an imprint of Random House. First editions from its independent decades will have “First published [month][year]” or “Published [month][year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the latter half of the twentieth century, it began labeling first editions with “First edition” or “First printing” on the copyright page.

Robert Hale

A London-based publisher founded in 1936. It went defunct in the 2010s. From 1936 to 1958, it did not consistently label first editions, but later printings are mentioned on the copyright page. From 1958 onwards, it labelled first editions with “First published in Great Britain in [year]” on the copyright page. In 1994, it began using a number line, but only for its non-fiction titles.

Roberts Brothers

American publishers based in Boston. They began publishing books in the 1860s. In 1898, they were purchased by Little, Brown. They published numerous women authors, including Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Julia Ward Howe, and others. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and copyright page. Yet many of their editions have various issues and states deducible by binding variants or small textual changes, so some further bibliographic research may be needed.

Rodale

An American publisher founded in 1930. It was known for lifestyle books, health & wellness, sports, and other general non-fiction. From 1930 to 1979, first editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometimes first editions were also labelled with “first printing” on the copyright page. Sometime around 1980, they added a number line.


Saalfield Publishing

An American publisher operating from 1900 to 1977. It was primarily a reprint publisher. It obtained rights to reprint many popular children’s book series. In general, these are not to be considered first editions, but they may have some collectible value based on their illustrations. They followed no consistent practice in labelling printings.

Scholastic

An American publisher founded in the 1920s, but did not expand to book publishing until the 1960s. In its first decades, it was only a book club and reprint publisher. By the 1990s, it had reserved the rights to many major YA book franchises in the USA. From the 1990s onward, it has labelled first editions with “First edition” or “First American Edition” on the copyright page. They also use a number line. Some titles have different issues and states that need further bibliographic verification.

Scribner

A major American book publisher that traces its origins to the 1840s. For most of the nineteenth century, they focused on periodicals and magazines. It was not until the 1870s that they began to publish many original standalone titles. In the twentieth century, they published some of the most canonized American authors. Today they are an imprint of Simon & Schuster. First editions published before 1930 will have the correct year on the title page and copyright page with no later printings mentioned. They may also have the Scribner seal, but this is not a consistent indicator of edition or printing. From 1930 to 1973, they labelled first printings with the letter A on its own line on the copyright page. In the 1970s, this practice was replaced with a number line.

Signet

A reprint/trade paperback publisher from the twentieth century. They are generally not considered first editions, but may have some collectible appeal for their cover art or vintage look. From the 1970s onwards, they labelled their editions with “first Signet printing [month][year]” and a number line. Prior to the 1970s, no consistent practice has been established.

Simon & Schuster

A major American publisher founded in 1924. Today it is one of the largest publishers in the world with dozens of imprints. First editions from 1924 to 1952 will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. During this period, however, they also used a range of inconsistent practices to label later printings. Sometimes, they will be named “second printing [month][year]”. Other times, they are denoted by a nondescript dot or asterisk on the copyright page. Sometimes, they also stated “first printing” as well. It is therefore advisable to do more bibliographic research for any copies from 1952 or earlier.

But in 1952, they began consistently labelling first editions and subsequent printings on the copyright page with clear statements. In the 1970s, they also added a number line.

Stackpole Books

An American publisher founded in 1930. It is known for its military books, hunting books, angling books, and other hobby titles, but it has also published some notable fiction. First editions are stated on the copyright page. From the 1970s onward, they also use a number line.

St. Martin’s Press

An American subsidiary of the British publisher Macmillan. It was founded in the early 1950s. It has grown to include several imprints. From the 1950s to the early 1980s, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the early 1980s, they began labelling first editions on the copyright page and they added a number line.

Sun Dial

A reprint publisher affiliated with Doubleday. It published many genre series and other reprints of major works. They are generally not to be considered first editions, but may have some appeal for their cover art or vintage qualities.

SUNY Press

The academic press of the State University of New York (SUNY). The press was founded in 1966 in Albany. The majority of its output comes from New York-based academic authors. Over the last decade, it has partnered with major book distributors to release titles as print-on-demand editions. But when they release titles with tradition printings, the first editions will have the correct year on the copyright page and a number line.

Sutton Hoo Press

A fine press operating out of the Driftless Region of Minnesota and Wisconsin. All of their editions are letterpress limited editions. They will have edition information in the front matter and/or colophon.

Swallow Press

A small American publisher founded in the 1940s. It is also sometimes called Alan Swallow Press. It became an imprint of the Ohio University Press in 2008. First editions are not labelled, but later printings will be listed on the copyright page.


Taschen

A German publisher founded in the 1980s. They are known for their limited editions, artists’ books, and large format volumes. First editions are labelled on a colophon.

Thomas Y. Crowell

An American publisher founded in the nineteenth century. It operated independently well in the twentieth century. In 1978, it was sold to Harper & Row. Today it is defunct. First editions will have the correct year on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the mid-twentieth century, they also added a number line.

Ticknor & Fields

An American publisher founded in the 1830s. It published many great American authors, including Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Twain. In 1868, it changed to Fields, Osgood & Co. Not long after, it became Houghton, Mifflin & Co. First editions will have the correct date on the title page and copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

Time Inc.

A major American publisher and conglomerate founded in 1922. Over the past century, it has acquired numerous magazines, television channels, websites, and book publishing imprints. In the 1990s and again in the 2010s, it was merged and purchased with other corporations. Its primary book imprint was also called Time-Life Books. Until the mid-1970s, printings were labelled with an hourglass symbol on the last page. One hourglass indicated a first printing. Two hourglasses indicated a second printing. And so on. Then in 1976 they began stating printings on the copyright page.

Tuttle

A publisher founded in Japan in the 1940s by American book dealer Charles Tuttle. It is known for its books on Chinese and Japanese culture. First editions are labelled with “First printing” on the copyright page.


United States Golf Association

The publishing branch of the USGA has released some facsimile editions and limited editions of classic golf books. They will have a limitation page with the copy number and limitation information. They also publish commemorative volumes from golf championships. These are not usually reprinted, so they are presumed first editions unless otherwise stated.

University of Chicago Press

The publishing branch of the University of Chicago. It was founded in 1890. It almost exclusively publishes academic works. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Since at least the 1990s, they have also used a number line.

University of Illinois Press

The publishing branch of the University of Illinois. It was founded in the 1910s. It primarily publishes academic texts. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Since at least the 2000s, they have also used a number line.

University of Washington Press

The publisher of the University of Washington. It was founded in 1915. It primarily publishes academic texts, but also some literary works. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page. Since at least the 2010s, they have also used a number line.

University of Minnesota Press

The publishing branch of the University of Minnesota. Founded in 1925, it is known for its regional texts, academic texts, and political theory. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Since the 2000s, they have also used a number line.


Vanguard

An American publisher founded in the 1920s. Initially, it published radical political theory. But by the 1930s, it had become more mainstream. It operated independently until 1988 when it was subsumed by Random House. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Sometime in the 1970s, they also added a number line.

Victor Gollancz

A British publisher founded in 1927. They operated independently until 1989 Victor Gollancz Ltd was acquired by Houghton Mifflin. Today it is an imprint of Orion Publishing Group. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In 1984, they consistently began using the phrase “First published in [year]” on the copyright page. Prior to that, they used several variations of this statement, but the correct year with no later printings mentioned is consistent.

Viking

A New York-based publisher founded in 1925. It grew to include numerous imprints and published some of the most notable authors of the last 100 years. In 1975, it was acquired by Penguin Group. For a time, it was called Viking Penguin. Today it is owned by Penguin Random House. There are some variations in first edition labelling across Viking’s imprints. Viking Press proper, though, will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. In the late 1930s, their statement consistently read “published by Viking in [year]”. By the 1980s, they also added a number line on later printings.

Villard

An imprint of Random House. It was founded in 1983. It follows the same edition points as Random House; that is, from its inception to about 2003, it used a number line that ended with the number 2 on first printings. Then, about 2003, it began labelling first printings with a number line containing the number 1. It also labels first editions with “First Edition” on the copyright page.

Vintage Books

A trade paperback imprint initially established by Knopf in 1954, but then acquired by Random House in 1960. Most of its titles are reprints, but not always. Some were first printed with Vintage Books. In any case, they may have collectible value as some of the earliest editions printed and/or for their cover designs. Vintage books first editions are labelled with “First Edition” on the copyright page and a number line.


Warner Books

An American publisher founded in 1970 as primarily a reprint and paperback publisher. In 2006, it was acquired by Hachette and became Grand Central Publishing. Original titles will be stated first editions on the copyright page with a number line.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson

A British publisher founded in 1949. It is sometimes acronymized to W&N or Weidenfeld. It became an imprint of Orion in 1991. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no subsequent printings mentioned.

Wesleyan University Press

The publishing branch of Wesleyan University. It was founded in the 1950s. Unlike many university presses, it is primarily known for publishing original works of poetry. First editions will be labelled on the copyright page with “First Edition” or “First Printing”. Later printings are also labelled.

William Blackwood

A Scottish publisher founded in 1804. It remained a family-run business for generations. By the mid 1980s, it had largely dissolved. First editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Interestingly, some first editions published prior to the early 1900s will have “second edition” on the copyright page. This is a marketing ploy. It was meant to lead readers to think the book was selling more quickly than it actually was. But this is “second edition” statement is highly uncommon. Most of the time, the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page will suffice.

William Heinemann

A British publisher founded in 1890. It became an imprint of Doubleday in 1920. In the 1980s and 1990s, its various branches were divested to Pearson, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and other publishers. Today it is mostly known as an imprint of educational resources, but in the twentieth century, it was known for its literary output. Until about 1920, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Then about 1920, they began labelling first editions with “First Published [year]” or “First Published in Great Britain [year]” on the copyright page with no later printings mentioned.

William Morrow

An American publisher founded in 1926. In 1967, it was sold to Scott Foresman Publishers. Today it is an imprint of HarperCollins. From 1926 to about 1973, first editions will have the correct year on the title page and/or copyright page with no later printings mentioned. Then from about 1973 onwards, they stated first editions on the copyright page along with a number line.

William Sloane Associates

A short-lived American publisher founded in 1946 by science fiction author and editor William Sloane. In 1952, it was sold to William Morrow. First editions are labelled “First Printing” on the copyright page. Later printings will also be labelled.

World Publishing

An American publisher founded in the late 1930s and operating until about 1980. Its Tower Books imprint was especially popular for its cheap reprint titles. World Publishing first editions are labelled “First Edition” or “First Printing” on the copyright page.