I recently received a very interesting gift…a seemingly antique, hardcover edition of volume 2 of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, translated from French by Charles E. Wilbour, edited by Frederick Mynon Cooper.
My sister got it at a garage sale in Gig Harbor, Washington, and unfortunately, volume 1 was nowhere to be found.
Because it was volume 2, it didn’t have a copyright page, and the only clue we had to determine its age was the list at the back of the book of other publications by the publisher, A.L. Burt Publishing Company.
Different internet sources listed different publication dates for the particular edition – one even claiming that it was published in 1879.
Though I would love it if the book was really published in 1879, I doubt if ithis is true. One internet source described A.L. Burt as a reprint publisher which reprinted popular first editions in the late 1800s to the ‘mid 1900s. The site also mentioned that the A.L. Burt publications were often mistaken by enthusiastic book collectors as 1st editions, rather than reprints.
One internet site listed the publication date for the edition as 1910, and yet another listed it as 1920.
1879, 1910, 1920…it doesn’t really matter. Suffice it to say that it’s very, very, old, and fragile. Though I would love to peruse its pages over and over again looking for clues to its age, and even to read it, parts of it disintegrate every time I take it out of the protective plastic bag it came it.
Regardless of its age and value, it’s still a very interesting addition to my collection, and I like the idea that somewhere out there, someone with vol. 1 is wondering where vol. 2 is.
I’d love to hear from anyone who can tell me more about this particular edition – or from the person who owns or knows someone who owns vol. 1. I know it’s highly unlikely I will find the person from Gig Harbor, WA who owns or used to own this book, but hey, you never know!
**Addendum: September 11, 2012**
Upon careful examination, I discovered that the publisher is not A.L. Burt, but Thompson and Thomas, Chicago. My search on the internet directed me to different sites selling the exact edition (Vol. 1 only), and all sites list publication date as 1895.
**Addendum: September 12, 2012**
I wrote to one of the online booksellers selling volume 1 to ask about when the book was published, and this was her reply:
I have just pulled the book from the warehouse. It is obviously very old and quite well preserved. I have looked for the copyright and/or a publication date but there is no date of publishing. The only date I found was at the end of the Preface which is not a copyright date. That date was 1862. Please note that this book is without a dust jacket.The information on the title page ( where there usually is a date related to publication) notes the name of the book Les Miserables, A novel, by Victor Hugo. Translated from the original french by Charles E. Wilbour. Revised and edited by Frederick Mynon Cooper. Complete in Two Volumes, Volume I Illustrated. Chicago: Thompson & Thomas, Publishers….