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The Printing, Proof-reading, and Publishing of Thackeray's Vanity Fair: The First Edition by Peter L. Shillingsburg
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Page 118

The Printing, Proof-reading, and Publishing of Thackeray's Vanity Fair: The First Edition
Peter L. Shillingsburg

From time to time bookseller's catalogues offer Vanity Fair in parts with more or less extensive descriptive notes and references to Van Duzer's 1919 description of his Thackeray library.[1] Occasionally the descriptions refer to other known copies of the novel for comparison. One such catalogue refers to "the Austin copy" as "the finest copy of 'Vanity Fair' ever offered at auction in America" and ends its headnote on the current offering as "One of the Two Finest Copies Ever Offered at Auction in This Country."[2] Who owns the finest copy of Vanity Fair is a question likely to interest book collectors more than literary critics. And as long as fineness is determined by references to the condition of the wrappers and the priority of advertisements unconnected with the novel's text, it will remain a question of little importance to the critic. But it is an important question to both collectors and critics, and this for reasons hitherto unknown.

The basics are, of course, well-known: the first edition[3] consists of 20 numbers in 19 separate installment parts, each with 32 pages of text, additional leaves of advertisements, and printed yellow paper wrappers. The last installment contains numbers 19 and 20. The first number was published on 1 January 1847 and the final double number was published on 1 July 1848. Following completion of the serial issue, left-over sheets from that issue along with newly reprinted sheets from the same typesetting were used for publication of the novel in one volume. The publisher's accounts record multiple printings of this edition and continuous


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availability of the novel in parts and book form throughout the 1850's and 60's.

This summary of the production of Vanity Fair gives a false impression of simplicity. And whether because as scholars and book collectors we prefer simplicity to facts or because the facts have been too difficult to ascertain, both scholars and book collectors have operated under certain naive assumptions which need dispelling—to wit: the idea that any given physical copy of Vanity Fair whether in parts or volume form might as a whole belong to a single printing (the production process of mid-nineteenth century serialized novels makes this as likely to be untrue as to be true); or the idea that the "printing," "issue," or "state" of the text of a serialized novel can be ascertained by reference to points in the wrappers. Regardless of the literary significance of the variants in Vanity Fair, their existence and distribution have an important bearing on the question of "fineness" or "priority" which till now has been inaccessible to book collectors. But the variants do, also, have literary significance and must attract the critics' notice. There are 210 variant readings between the printings within the first edition of which 150 are substantive, 17 being the addition, deletion, or substitution of passages ranging in length from three to seventy-five words. It would seem of some small importance to the literary critic to know that originally Mr. Jos Sedley in Vauxhall Gardens is referred to as a "fat bacchanalian" but that second thoughts delete that description,[4] or that Miss Crawley had originally signified her intention of dividing her "fortune equally" between Sir Pitt's second son and the family at the rectory, but that later the fortune is described merely as an "inheritance" to be divided without reference to proportion (77.25). And it must be of some interest to the followers of Becky's fortunes that in the original text the reason Colonel Crawley, though governor of Coventry Island, could settle on her only 300 pounds a year (out of an annual income of 3000) was that his revenues went to the "payment of certain debts and the insurance of his life," but that later the reference to life insurance was deleted (579.7-8). Indeed, both the critic and the printing historian stand to benefit as much as the book collector from the effort to determine who owns the finest copy of the first edition of Vanity Fair; for, though there is probably no satisfactory answer, the attempt at one requires that we focus attention not only on book-collecting values, but on the complex printing


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history of the book, and the artistic effects of the author's continued interest in the composition of the work during the printing processes. We can determine when those 210 variants first appeared in the text, who was responsible for them, and finally what significance they have to our understanding and assessment of the novel.

As David Randall pointed out in his 1948 notes toward a collation of Vanity Fair, there are five areas of concern for parts-issued books: front wrappers, back wrappers, inserted advertisements, plates, and text.[5] For Vanity Fair, by far the greatest interest to date has been lavished on the first three—the parts the author had the least do do with. Booksellers continue to identify their copies of Vanity Fair by reference to readings on the wrappers and by one or two famous "points" in the text which are not in fact points, one of the most often used "points" remaining unchanged throughout all printings of the first edition.[6] But these five concerns are merely the discrete parts of the product. Taken together they are the corporate results of the activities of publishing, printing, binding, and marketing, each of which affects the five-part product. In addition to the books themselves, we can bring to bear information from the publisher's records, the author's letters relative to the production, and our knowledge of how books were made in the midnineteenth century as well. Synthesizing all the evidence makes it possible to provide a satisfactory guide to the effects production history had on the novel, the specific result of production represented by a given copy of the book, and the significance the vicissitudes of production have for the student of the text and for the book collector.

Most traditional collectors of Vanity Fair probably think much of this investigation unnecessary. One recently assured me that a useful bibliography is one that identifies the printings in a simple straightforward way for book collectors. But identifying the printing or state represented by any given copy of Vanity Fair is seldom possible. It is often possible to identify the printing or state of each sheet or gathering within a given copy of the book, but most copies of Vanity Fair as wholes represent hybrids or mixtures of sheets from different printings—as a natural result of the methods of manufacturing and marketing the book.[7] When each monthly part was published, a certain number of


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copies of the part were printed from type. As each stack of printed sheets dwindled in the bindery, it was replenished by reprinting the depleted numbers. The result was that some parts were reprinted more often than others (see Chart I). The book was available in parts for years after it had also become available in book-form, and the book-form itself was bound in small lots ordered as needed for distribution; hence sheets from one printing can appear indiscriminately mixed with sheets from other printings in any given book—regardless of its present form, whether parts or volume. If a particular copy of the book has an early title-page and prefatory material the rest of the book may yet consist of sheets printed late or a mixture of early and late. Even if parts-issue had ceased once the book as a whole became available, one need only be reminded that eighteen months elapsed between the printing of part one and the printing of the title-page, and that, according to the publisher's records, during those eighteen months parts 1 and 7-13 were each reprinted once.[8]

Whereas I have been able to identify the order in which readings were introduced to the text and have given the readings in that order in the appended table, they may appear in confusing disorder in any given copy of Vanity Fair. Thus, in using the variants lists as a means of identifying a given book, each gathering must be identified separately. Furthermore, the Vanity Fair owner must be warned that the difference between parts and book-form issues was created by the bindery, not the press. In other words, the mere fact that a copy was issued in parts is no guarantee that the text is an early printing, nor does the fact that a copy is in book-form mean that it is composed of later printed sheets.

But enough of complexities. Following the completion of the parts issue on 1 July 1848 and during the succeeding fifteen years, Bradbury and Evans issued the first edition of Vanity Fair continuously in parts and volume forms. Each monthly part was printed at least six times, twelve parts were printed seven times, and two parts were printed eight times—prepared according to the schedule in Chart I. The novel was stitched into parts and bound in book-form for distribution according to the schedule in Chart II.

I. The first printing of each number was run off from standing (moveable) type. Positive identification of printings from type can be


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made by measuring the length of any printed line extending from margin to margin. If the measurement equals or exceeds 3 and frac1316ths inches (9.7 cm), the page was printed from standing type; copies printed from stereotyped plates measure 3 and ¾ths inches (9.6 cm) or less.[9]

States of the first printing were created when certain changes were effected in the standing type before stereotyped plates were cast. Though it is not clear whether these changes are stop-press corrections producing two states of the first printing or if they represent second printings from type, the former seems to me the more likely in view of certain evidence to follow concerning stereotyping. The changes in the standing type are listed in columns one through two of Chart III. In one instance, that of signature X in part number 10, three "states" of the "first printing" are distinguishable (see Chart III, 309.3 and 309.11).

In the publisher's account books, charges for stereotyping were entered at the same time as those for initial composition and corrections, and it is conceivable, perhaps even probable, that the stereotypes were cast immediately after the first printing from standing type. If that were the case, one would expect to find relatively commonly copies of Vanity Fair in parts with numbers 1 and 7-13 printed from stereotypes since these numbers were reprinted months before re-issue in book-form (see Chart I). In fact, however, both the normal complexities of original production and the rapacity of unscrupulous bookmen have produced copies of Vanity Fair in parts with sheets printed from stereotypes. The worst instance I know of the latter is the Heineman copy in the Pierpont Morgan Library which is expertly repaired so that only careful examination reveals that seven of the gatherings were made up by combining pages from at least two different copies—one printed from type and one from stereotyped plates—and that three additional whole gatherings printed from stereotypes were probably supplied surreptitiously: a classic case of collecting wrappers and advertisements rather than texts. However, not all "mixed copies" are aberrations; the publisher's records show that Vanity Fair was always available in parts so that as the years went by new-sold parts would contain late-printed sheets. Similarly, copies in volume form sometimes contain early, maybe first-printing, sheets either as a normal result of binding schedules or because some purchaser of early parts had his copy rebound in volume form. Nevertheless, certain copies (not all in parts) composed mostly of sheets printed from type have been noted with numbers 1 and 7-11 both printed from


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stereotyped plates and sharing all the readings characteristic of the last "state" of the printing from type.[10] Not only does this pattern correspond with the publisher's records, but it demonstrates that the major alterations in Vanity Fair, for these numbers at least, were effected after stereotyping. It is likely that similar copies of the book in parts also exist with numbers 12-13 printed from stereotypes but with readings corresponding to the final state of the first printing.

It is misleading to speak of a second printing of Vanity Fair, for not all parts reached a second printing at the same time. There was, nevertheless, a short time in which the publisher was producing books with a characteristic combination of first-printing sheets and second-printing sheets which it is tempting to refer to as a second stage of production.[11]

II. A. The second printing of numbers 1 and 7-13, apparently issued in combination with first-printing sheets of the rest of the book, is printed from stereotyped plates but shares the readings of the final state of the printing from type (see column three in Chart III). Numbers printed from stereotypes but with readings agreeing with the printing from type can be distinguished from type-printed numbers by the measurement described above (i.e. type-printed pages measure 3 and frac1316ths inches or more horizontally from margin to margin while stereotype-printed pages measure 3 and ¾ths inches or less). This second printing of numbers 1 and 7-13 can sometimes be distinguished from other, later stereotype printings by the readings in column three of Chart III.

Though the publisher's records give no clear indication of when the majority of substantive variants were introduced,[12] the existence of numbers 1 and 7-11 printed from stereotypes with unaltered readings proves conclusively that changes in those numbers post-date the stereotyping and suggests a similar pattern for the rest of the book. In addition, the evidence of machine collation, though inconclusive, seems to suggest


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that in numbers 2, 3, and 5 a few changes not actually noted in any copy of the book printed from type may in fact pre-date stereotyping.[13] It is possible that these changes were made in standing type which was not then used again before stereotypes were cast and that the further changes made after stereotyping were effected before the plates were used the first time. Hence, there may never have been copies of the book with the earlier changes only. The importance of the machine-collation evidence is that it suggests a priority of changes and supports the notion that interest in changing the text was continuous with Thackeray, not merely a one-time or haphazard concern. The changes that appear to pre-date stereotyping are all corrections or alterations of some magnitude and are probably authorial. (See asterisked entries in Chart III.)

II. B. The second printing of parts 2-6 and 14-20 was made from stereotyped plates incorporating considerable alterations and seems to have occurred at about the time of the third printing of parts 1 and 7-13. See Chart I for the rapidity of reprinting during the eight months following the serial's conclusion (July 1848 through February 1849). This second printing of parts 2-6 and 14-20 can be distinguished from the first printing by the measurement indicated above (i.e. the first printing is from type, the second from stereotypes) and by the readings listed in Chart III, column three.

III. The third printing of parts 1 and 7-13 was made for the most part from corrected stereotyped plates. However, the "correction" of signature Y entailed the removal of a woodcut dropped into the text. The result was that the text from that point to the end of the chapter had to be moved up 9.7 centimeters. Rather than trying to cut and move stereotyped plates, the printers reset the whole of pages 366-340. Thus,


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the first pages of signature Z are affected in the same way. At least one printing, probably the third, was run off from corrected plates except for pages 336-340 for which type was imposed along with plates. The readings characteristic of this printing are recorded in Chart III, column four.

IV. The fourth and later printings by Bradbury and Evans are not distinguishable from one another and are only occasionally identifiable at all. The publisher's records show at least six printings for each part, seven printings for twelve parts and eight printings for two parts. Signatures Y and Z are again significant, for the pages printed from type in the third printing were then stereotyped for subsequent printings and though there are no distinguishing readings, the type-page measurements indicate stereotyping.

The title-page, printed with parts 19-20, is the only part that can be distinguished in more than four printings. According to the publisher's records, the final part (containing numbers 19-20, the preface, and title-pages) was printed seven times by Bradbury and Evans before Smith, Elder, and Company acquired the stereotypes and back stock in 1865. The Bradbury and Evans printings occurred three times in 1848, once each in 1849 and 1855, and twice in 1864. Unlike the text, the title-page seems to have been reset for each printing, and six different settings have been identified. Though it is impossible to determine the precise order in which the title pages were prepared, it is beyond question that the first one given in Chart VI is the first printing. It seems likely that the two printings dated 1849 precede some if not all the others dated 1848 because the books they belong to have readings pre-dating readings in copies with the 1848 date. However, as I have taken pains to show, the state of one sheet cannot be used as evidence for the state of other sheets in the same book because mixtures of early and late sheets were a normal product of the bindery. Since each of the title pages was entirely reset, the apparent carry-over of a characteristic from one to the next would be fortuitous, not indicative of order.

When Smith, Elder, and Company acquired the copyrights and the back stock of stereotypes and printed sheets from Thackeray's other publishers in July, 1865, they acquired from Bradbury and Evans 5,001 copies of "various numbers" of Vanity Fair in parts and two copies bound up. Over the next eight months they printed enough "various numbers" to bring the total to 17,392 which were made into 865 copies of the book bound in cloth with 92 numbers left over. Though I have not yet encountered a copy dated 1865, a charge for new titles was entered


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in the account books for November of that year. A copy dated 1866 is at the Simon Fraser University Library, Burnaby, B.C., Canada.[14] The records also show an August 1868 printing of 250 copies, again with a new title page dated 1868; there is a copy (not personally examined) in the British Library. It is curious that Smith, Elder reprinted the first edition of Vanity Fair in 1868, for that is the year they brought out an entirely new edition of the book as part of a collected edition of Thackeray's works.

What does it all mean? For the book-collector, I hope the historical record reveals the true nature of the copies of Vanity Fair he owns, and that it establishes a range of representative copies he may seek to add to his collection. For the historian of printing, I hope the record with its combination of evidence from publisher's records and the books themselves confirms his sense of the complexity of the economic, technological, and artistic confluence that commercial book publishing was. For the textual editor the implications are patently clear. For the literary critic and student of Thackeray's works, I hope the record of variants provides a basis for further understanding Thackeray's attitude towards his text and supplies evidence leading to a clearer understanding of his concerns in the novel. Some changes seem to have relatively obvious motives: the elimination of Dobbin's lisp (all but one instance) at 50.18 and 105.18-19 is clearly intended to improve the image of the book's only gentleman. And the deleted reference to life insurance at 579.7-8 is the mere correction of an error, since at 501.3-4 Rawdon was unable to qualify for life insurance at all. But other changes suggest more subtle motives. Why, for example, did Thackeray find it inappropriate, at 50.11up, to call Jos a "fat bacchanalian"? And why, at 75.29, does he change Lady Muttondown to Lady Southdown and then decide, at 500.35, that it is also inappropriate to refer to Lady Southdown as Lady Macbeth? Why, at 40.10-11, is the sentence "And what can Alderman Dobbin have amongst fourteen?" (so reminiscent of St. John's account of the feeding of the five thousand) deleted? And why is Mrs. Blenkinsop, at 55.14-15, no longer allowed to opine to Pinner, apropos of Becky, that governesses are "neither one thing nor t'other." If nothing else, the alterations focus attention on passages that were, somehow, not right and for which the new readings are, somehow, better. But this article is not the place for critical speculation or evaluation; I only hope


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that this presentation of the evidence of revision will stimulate critical assessments providing a clearer understanding of Thackeray's achievement in Vanity Fair.[15]


Page 128

Chart I—Vanity Fair Printing Schedule

Basically there were six printings of Vanity Fair: The original printing, 1 January 1847 through 1 July 1848; a second comprehensive printing in July, 1848; a third in September, 1848; a fourth in February, 1849; the fifth was scattered out over the years 1854 to 1857; and the sixth was scattered through 1861 to 1864. In addition numbers 1, 3, and 7-13 were printed an extra time in 1847-48, and numbers 2-4, 7, and 19-20 were printed an extra time in 1864-65. Thus, numbers 3 and 7 were printed eight times; numbers 1, 2, 4, 8-13 and 19-20 were printed seven times; the rest only six.

Part  1st Printing  2nd Printing  3rd Printing  4th Printing  5th Printing  6th Printing  7th Printing  8th Printing 
Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size  Mon/Yr: Size 
12/46: 5000  Same: 2000  7/48: 1250  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  11/54: 500  5/61: 500  None 
1/47: 6000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/55: 500  12/63: 250  6/65: 250  None 
2/47: 5000  6/48: 500  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/55: 500  12/63: 250  6/64: 250 
3/47: 5000  7/48: 1250  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/55: 500  12/63: 250  6/64: 250  None 
4/47: 5000  7/48: 1250  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  9/56: 500  2/64: 250  None  None 
5/47: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  11/54: 500  5/61: 500  None  None 
6/47: 4000  1/48: 1000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/55: 500  12/63: 250  6/65: 250 
7/47: 4000  1/48: 1000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/56: 500  1/64: 500  None 
8/47: 4000  2/48: 1000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None 
10  9/47: 4000  2/48: 1000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None 
11  10/47: 4000  3/48: 1000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None 
12  11/47: 4500  3/48: 500  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None 
13  12/47: 4500  3/48: 500  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None 
14  1/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None  None 
15  2/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/57: 500  4/64: 500  None  None 
16  3/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  8/56: 500  2/64: 250  None  None 
17  4/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  8/56: 500  2/64: 250  None  None 
18  5/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  8/56: 500  2/64: 250  None  None 
20  6/48: 5000  7/48: 1000  9/48: 1500  2/49: 2000  2/55: 500  1/64: 500  4/64: 500  None 

TOTALS per number: 1 = 12750; 2 = 11500; 3 = 11000; 4 = 10750; 5 through 18 = 10500 each; 19/20 = 11000


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Chart II—Vanity Fair Schedule of Disbursement

There are various ways to read the publisher's records to gain an idea of the rate at which books left the publisher for the public—none produce the same result. All the records account for the book by parts so that a single bound book is treated as 20 parts. There are records of payments made for stitching copies (no telling if for parts or book issue), but apparently some copies were sold unstitched. There are half-yearly summary reports of numbers sold (no telling whether as parts or book-form), but these figures were determined, apparently, by subtracting the numbers currently in hand, presented, given to the author, etc., from the number in hand at the beginning of the six month period plus any new printings; hence, the number "sold" seldom if ever equals a number divisible by 20 parts, which if that were the case might indicate all sales were of whole books. So it is not clear whether the number recorded as sold accurately reflects the sale of partial runs in parts or simply approximates the numbers sold in book-form. Finally there are six-month records of the form of copies remaining in hand: so many parts in quires, so many stitched, so many in cloth binding, and so many "P.O." (a label I do not understand identifying figures which sometimes are divisible by 20, sometimes not and ranging from 3 to 242).

The following chart provides half-yearly summaries of the records of disbursement and analysis of stock in hand in parts in order to demonstrate the ways any bound copy of the book might combine sheets from separate printings as a normal product of the manufacturing process—making it, incidentally, solecistic to speak of the "impression" or "state" of a given copy of Vanity Fair as a whole. The usually discrete production stages of book publishing (printing, binding, selling) intermingle in serial publication to produce bewildering combinations.


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Ending Date of Half-Year Reporting Period:  June 47  Dec 47  June 48
Dec 48} 
June 49  Dec 49  June 50  Dec 50  June 51  Dec 51  June 52  Dec 52 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at Beginning:  ----  10016  10868  4245  30304  25425  20206  19258  15605  14418  11953 
Printed During Period:  37000  25000  92250  40000  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ---- 
Total Parts Available:  37000  35016  103118  44245  30304  25425  20206  19258  15605  14418  11953 
Sold:  25717  22972  96961  13941  4879  5219  948  3653  1187  2465  2411 
Otherwise Disposed of:  1267  1176  1912  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  40 
Total Parts Disbursed:  26984  24148  98873  13941  4879  5219  948  3653  1187  2465  2451 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at End: Quired:  6694  8450  3145  28289  24187  19245  17897  15067  12729  11165  8506 
Stitched:  2722  1718  558  460  231  331  411  251  426  198  226 
Bound:  ----  ----  300  1420  900  580  900  200  1220  540  660 
P.O.:  ----  ----  242  135  107  50  50  87  43  50  46 
Other:  600  700  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  64 
Total Parts Remaining:  10016  10868  4245  30304  25425  20206  19258  15605  14418  11953  9502 
Ending Date of Half-Year Reporting Period:  June 53  Dec 53  June 54  Dec 54  June 55  Dec 55  June 56  Dec 56  June 57  Dec 57  June 58  Dec 58 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at Beginning:  9502  7338  6536  4470  4753  6662  6069  5362  6785  8415  7956  7310 
Printed During Period:  ----  ----  ----  1000  3000  ----  500  2000  3500  ----  ----  ---- 
Total Parts Available:  9502  7338  6536  5470  7753  6662  6569  7362  10285  8415  7956  7310 
Sold:  2144  802  2066  717  1091  573  1207  577  1870  459  646  485 
Otherwise Disposed of:  20  ----  ----  ----  ----  20  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ---- 
Total Parts Disbursed:  2164  802  2066  717  1091  593  1207  577  1870  459  646  485 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at End: Quired:  6629  6022  2762  3788  5675  5583  4896  6284  8125  7554  6696  5562 
Stitched:  276  191  214  188  177  66  102  117  170  80  74  58 
Bound:  280  160  1340  620  500  320  240  200  60  260  440  560 
P.O.:  89  99  90  93  90  60  64  84  ----  42  40  65 
Other:  64  64  64  64  220  40  60  100  60  20  60  580 
Total Parts Remaining:  7338  6536  4470  4753  6662  6069  5362  6785  8415  7956  7310  6825 


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Ending Date of Half-Year Reporting Period:  June 59  Dec 59  June 60  Dec 60  June 61  Dec 61  June 62  Dec 62  June 63  Dec 63 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at Beginning:  6825  5687  5228  4585  3724  3991  3743  3646  3429  3286 
Printed During Period:  ----  ----  ----  ----  1000  ----  ----  ----  ----  1000 
Total Parts Available:  6825  5687  5228  4585  4724  3991  3743  3646  3429  4286 
Sold:  1098  459  643  861  733  248  97  217  143  602 
Otherwise Disposed of:  40  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  20 
Total Parts Disbursed:  1138  459  643  861  733  248  97  217  143  622 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at End: Quired:  5437  4776  4166  3458  3698  3498  3430  3110  3058  3356 
Stitched:  60  182  54  71  33  27  65  64  84  63 
Bound:  60  180  220  80  140  100  40  180  80  180 
P.O.:  70  50  65  55  60  58  91  55  44  65 
Other:  60  40  80  60  60  60  20  20  20  ---- 
Total Parts Remaining:  5687  5228  4585  3724  3991  3743  3646  3429  3286  3664 
Ending Date of Half-Year Reporting Period:  June 64  Dec 64  June 65  30 June 65 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at Beginning:  3664  5833  5251  5005 
Printed During Period:  6500  ----  500  ---- 
Total Parts Available:  10164  5833  5751  5005 
Sold:  4331  582  746  5005 
Otherwise disposed of:  ----  ----  ----  ---- 
Total Parts Disbursed:  4331  582  746  5005 
Number of Parts 
In Hand at End: Quired:  5389  4942  4965  ---- 
Stitched:  ----  42  ----  ---- 
Bound:  420  220  40  ---- 
P.O.:  24  47  ----  ---- 
Other:  ----  ----  ----  ---- 
Total Parts Remaining:  5833  5251  5005  ---- 

The Smith, Elder Publishers account books record 5,001 parts including 2 bound copies received from Bradbury and Evans in June 1865. In 1865 Smith, Elder printed 7,391 more parts and in 1866 they printed 5,000 more, yielding 17,392 parts available. These were bound into 865 bound copies leaving 92 odd parts. In 1868 they printed 250 more copies of the whole book. The Smith, Elder accounts of the first edition of Vanity Fair were closed out in 1883.


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Chart III—Variants Within the First Edition of Vanity Fair

This chart provides a means of identifying the printing and sometimes the state within a printing of individual sheets in Vanity Fair. The variants are grouped under part numbers and, within parts, under signatures. The first two columns represent the first and second states of the first printing of each sheet (a third state of signatures X and FF is distinguishable as indicated in notes under these signatures in the chart). Columns three and four represent the second and third printings of each sheet. A fourth printing is distinguishable for signatures C, L, R, Y, Z, and QQ (as indicated in notes under each of these signatures in the chart).

The second printing is always distinguishable from the first, even when no variants occur (as in signature B), because it was printed from stereotyped plates. When the illustration in signature Y (336.2-3) was removed, text was reset and moved up to fill the gap—moving in the process some text from Z to Y, hence the jagged delimiter between these signatures in the chart. The third and fourth printings of signatures Y and Z are distinguishable even though there are no variants because pages 336-340, newly reset for the third printing, were printed from type whereas in the fourth printing plates were used.

When a reading remains unchanged from one state or printing to the next, it is represented in the next column by a dash. When for a given signature a printing is identifiable only by a change from type to stereotype as a means of printing, the column will contain no changed readings but will be represented by dashes. If the state or printing represented by a column is not distinguishable in any way for a given signature, the column is left blank. For example, for signature B, only one state of the first printing can be distinguished, hence column two is blank; on the other hand, though no variants were introduced in the second printing, made from stereotyped plates, the second-printing column is represented by dashes.

Anyone discovering a copy of a signature in the book which contains changes in a pattern not fully represented by any one column (or its attending notes) will have discovered a hitherto unknown printing or state for that signature.

Entries marked by an asterisk (*) record changes which machine collation suggests may have been made in the type before stereotyping; however, no copy of the book printed from type with altered readings has been seen confirming the priority of asterisked readings (see text footnote 13).


Page 133

First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Part #1 
Sig. B 
1.[Title]  [Rustic Type]  ----------  [Roman Type] 
1.[Sub-Title]  [Roman Type]  ----------  [Gothic Type] 
8.17  only fifty  ----------  five and fifty 
9.42  had  ----------  with 
10.11  and her father  ----------  her father, 
10.16  pupil,  ----------  pupil; 
10.17  seen,  ----------  seen; 
10.17  free;  ----------  free, 
13.[run-title]  WITHOUT A  ----------  WITHOUTA 
13.24  that she  ----------  as she 
13.1up  Horse  ----------  Life 
15.14  harm trying."  ----------  harm in trying." 
Sig. C 
18.2up  measure;  ----------  ----------  ---------- 
19.23  Stycorax  ----------  ----------  Sicorax 
24.23  "and  ----------  ·'and  ---------- 
24.6up  26,  ----------  ----------  96, 
24.3up  roguish;  ----------  ----------  roguish, 
24.3up  Amelia,  ----------  ----------  Amelia; 
26.10  dining-room,  ----------  ----------  dining-room,-- 
26.12  society,  ----------  ----------  society;-- 
26.21  Christmas;  ----------  ----------  Christmas: 
26.22  remembered  ----------  ----------  he remembered 
27.35  great sigh.  great / sigh.  ----------  ---------- 
28.8  howdah  ----------  ----------  seat 
28.1up  [printer's widow]  [end of ¶]  ----------  ---------- 
29  [19 lines]  [20 lines]  ----------  ---------- 
30.5  hearth  ----------  ----------  roof 
31.2up  Joseph:  ----------  ----------  ---------- 
NOTE: A fourth printing agrees with the third except at 18.2up measure, and at 31.2up Joseph;


Page 134
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Part #2 
Sig. D 
34.1up  other.  ----------  other 
40.10-11  face? And what can Alderman Dobbin have amongst fourteen?"  face?  ---------- 
43.1up  gaberdine,  gabardine,  ---------- 
45.4  Devonshire  D-----  ---------- 
45.8  Cupids,  Cupids  ---------- 
45.14  Trent emille   Trent emille   ---------- 
45.19  Devonshire!"  D-----!  ---------- 
Sig. E 
50.18  foolth!"  fools!" 
50.11up  this fat bacchanalian  Mr. Jos Sedley 
52.34  Glauber  Gollop 
53.19  Glauber  Gollop 
54.14  ran:--  ran-- 
55.14  Pinner, they're neither one thing nor t'other.  Pinner, she remarked to the maid. 
55.3up  James."  James.' 
*58.1-2  Crawley's son, the  Crawley, son of the 
*58.42  Shiverly  Gaunt 
*60.2  I be  I'm 
*60.3  baynt.  aynt. 
*60.17  Crawley,  Tinker, 
*61.31  orphan,  baronet, 
*62.9  noise  nose 
63.12  hath  has 
63.14  What  Where 


Page 135
Part #3 
Sig. F 
*66.17  Mudbury  Leakington 
*66.36  Leakington  Mudbury 
*66.45  Leakington  Mudbury 
74.10  about  about, 
75.29  Muttondown's  Southdown's 
77.25  fortune equally  inheritance 
Sig. G 
83.11  as Cornet and  in the Life 
Lieutenant Crawley.  Guards Green. 
*88.6  Crawley  Crawley's 
*92.4  Petty  Rawdon 
94.30  Rincer,  Bowls, 
Part #4 
Sig. H 
97.24  gift  knack 
99.6up  it's  it is 
99.6up  There's  There is 
101.1up  that   that 
101.1up  to Heaven  Te Deum 
104.40  correspondence  correspondent 
105.18  alwayth  always 
105.18  nonthenth  nonsense 
105.18  thcandal  scandal 
105.19  Othborne  Osborne 
105.19  ith  is 
108.30  carpenter  weaver 
109.35  Maria:"  Jane:" 
110.18  Maria."  Jane." 
Sig. I 
113.9  Hulker  Hulker's 
116.32  Fisher  Firkin 
122.2  chicken that day.  chicken. 
128.6  vort.  vor't. 


Page 136
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Part #5 
Sig. K 
129.1up  siad  said  ---------- 
144.25  use  ----------  used 
145.sig  L [centered]  ----------  ---------- 
147.sig  L2  ---------- 
149.23  Young Cornet and Lieutenant  And young Lieutenant  ----------  [Chapter heading has normal top margin]  ----------  ---------- 
152.8-9  this worthy  the worthy  ---------- 
152.33  honest, kind  trembling  ---------- 
152.36  kind  sad  ---------- 
153.3  good mother  old mother  ---------- 
153.25  good old  old  ---------- 
154.1  good kindly  humiliated  ---------- 
156.5  done;  ----------  done, 
*156.38  Miss A.  Miss Ann  ---------- 
*156.1up  improved  uproused  ---------- 
NOTE: A fourth printing agrees with the third except at 145.sig L [is on the right] and 147.sig L2 [is restored] and [Chapter heading flush with top margin] and 156.5 done
Part #6 
Sig. M 
165.22  all the particulars she could  sundry strange particulars  ---------- 
167.13  know  know,  ---------- 
173.14  ready;  ready  ready; [restored in heavier type] 
175.1up  three  and three  ---------- 


Page 137
Sig. N 
180.5  Mahogany Charmer  mahogany charmer 
*188.26  Osborne  Sedley 
*188.32  Osborne  Sedley 
191.12  marriage. And  marriage; and 
191.15  here  there 
Part #7 
Sig. O 
202.35  stately  ----------  ----------  state 
203.17  commission:  ----------  ----------  commissions: 
206.20  young, favourite  young favourite,  ----------  ---------- 
Sig. P 
223.15up  are  ar 
Part #8 
Sig. Q 
227.16  mother  ----------  parents 
232.15  friends  ----------  friend 
236.25  Flanagan's  ----------  Flanahan's 
236.27  Major-General  ----------  Mejor-General 
Sig. R 
242.11  This  ----------  ----------  The 
244.3up  soldier  ----------  ----------  orderly 
247.35  of  ----------  ----------  with 
247.37  company  ----------  ----------  society 
248.4  "Near [normal quote ----------  ----------  "Near [first quote lower
252.1up  get  gain  ----------  ---------- 
254.9  shall  shawl  ----------  ---------- 
NOTE: A fourth printing agrees with the third except at 248.4 'Near


Page 138
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Part #9 
Sig. S 
259.19  below  ----------  above 
266.9up  Allée-Verté!  ----------  Allée-Verte! 
Sig. T 
280.32  in her  ----------  in their 
280.4up  Crawley had  Crawley's horses had  ---------- 
Part #10 
Sig. U 
289.20  be Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel  ----------  be Lieutenant-Colonel 
293.11  given up all  ----------  but faint 
293.19  report says was once  ----------  was secretly 
294.4up  the Grand Duchess  ----------  the Duchess 
295.7  [Randall reports the word worldty on this line; I have not seen it in any copy examined.] 
296.4up  worldty  ----------  worldly 
Sig. X 
305.5  buzz.  ----------  ----------  'buzz.' 
309.3  Osborne  Sedley  ----------  ---------- 
309.11  knicknacks,  ----------  knick-knacks,  ---------- 
310.13up  of—  ----------  ----------  of the 
312.1  fight  ----------  ----------  fights 
313.1  chance  ----------  a chance  ---------- 
NOTE: A third state of the first printing agrees with the second state except at 309.11 knick-knacks,


Page 139
Part #11 
Sig. Y 
328.29-34  [¶] After a stay at Brussels, where they lived in good fashion, with carriages and horses, and giving pretty little dinners at their hotel, the Colonel and his lady again quitted that city, from which slander pursued them as it did from Paris, and where it is said they left a vast amount of debt behind them. Indeed, this is the way in which gentlemen who live upon nothing a-year, make both ends meet. [¶] From Brussels, Colonel  ----------  [¶] And so, Colonel 
331.3up  salon  ----------  salons 
333.28  St.  ----------  Ste. 
333.37  Susan's  ----------  Jane's 
334.13  Mr.  Mr  ---------- 
334.14  orphan;  orphan,  ---------- 
336.1-end of sig.  [original typesetting]  [plated]  [reset and printed from type] 
336.1  silk;  ----------  silk: 
336.2-3  [woodcut illustration of Lord Steyne]  ----------  [omitted] 
336.18  too; he's  ----------  too: "he's 


Page 140
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Sig. Z 
337-340  [original typesetting]  ----------  336-340 [reset and printed from type] 
337.10  "Yes,  ----------  336.30 "Yes," 
337.10  ----------  336.30 "I 
338.2  loud;  ----------  337.22 loud: 
338.15  Minor  ----------  337.35 minor 
338.19  Father  ----------  337.39 father 
338.31  patronizingly  ----------  338.2 patronisingly 
338.16up  fragrance,  ----------  338.5 fragrance 
338.45  splendor  ----------  338.16 splendour 
338.46  pink,  ----------  338.17 pink 
339.8  Minor  ----------  338.28 minor 
339.36  literary, and that  ----------  339.7 literary and that, 
339.41  to night  ----------  339.12 to-night 
340.15  said,  ----------  339.34 said 
340.29  Minor  ----------  339.48 minor 
342.3  horse  ----------  horse, 
342.3  rode  ----------  rode, 
350.8up  IOU  ----------  IOU's 
NOTE: A fourth printing of Signatures Y and Z agrees with the third printing except that pages 336-340 are printed from stereotyped plates.
Part #12 
Sig. AA 
363.23  Mr. Glauber, the surgeon,  The family surgeon 
Sig. BB 
371.11up  in 
373.3  upon  that 
376.17  her. The  her: &c: the 


Page 141
Part #13 
Sig. CC 
385.19  away  and  ---------- 
386.14  and that if  and, if  ---------- 
391.25  Dobbins  Dobbin  ---------- 
391.30  "dearest William"  dearest William  ---------- 
394.8  Briggs'  Briggs  ---------- 
395.12-11up  to to his  ----------  to his 
399.1up  "It 's  "It's  ---------- 
Sig. DD 
403.31  Cabine  ----------  ----------  Cabinet 
405.18  sneaked  ----------  bolted  ---------- 
405.6-5up  [¶] Hunters arrived, from time to time, in charge of boys of the boy Jack species—the young  ----------  [¶] Many young  ---------- 
405.5up  hacks  ----------  hacks,  ---------- 
406.13  Will  ----------  Tom  ---------- 
409.7up  submission, and Dalilah  ----------  submission. Dalilah  ---------- 
414.8  restlessly, still  ----------  restlessly still,  ---------- 
414.30  dinners,  dinners:  ----------  ---------- 
Part #14 
Sig. EE 
[No alterations] 
Sig. FF 
434.1up  tired of  tired o  tired of [restored] 
NOTE: A third state of the first printing reads: tired
Part #14 
Sig. GG 
458.14-13up  Agamemnon  AGAMEMNON 
459.1  an d [#]  an d a 


Page 142
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Sig. HH 
[No alterations] 
Part #16 
Sig. II 
481.1up  read  made  ---------- 
482.22  gentleman,—  gentleman,  ---------- 
482.22  word,  word,--  ---------- 
482.36  tattoo  tune  ---------- 
483.17up  Jane  Jane,  ---------- 
484.4-3up  the the suburbs  ----------  the suburbs 
Sig. KK 
497.4  Behanged! these  ----------  Behanged to these 
499.10  a--fool  ----------  a d—fool 
500.35  Macbeth  ----------  Southdown 
502.3up  in his pompous manner,  ----------  in pompous orations 
503.9up  leaving  ----------  he left 
505.7  cost, as to his mother, saying he  ----------  cost, saying that he 
505.8  to her.  ----------  to his mother. 
510.1  thram  thrum  ---------- 
510.19  miserable  ----------  faded 
Part #17 
Sig. LL 
514.2  "it  (it 
514.3  window."  window.) 
514.5up  wages. Sisters  wages,—sisters 
517.27  youngster  youngsters 
521.24  that perennially  which perennially 
523.9  Ten  Long 


Page 143
Sig. MM 
536.3  an harsh  a harsh  ---------- 
536.27  cot; Miss  cot as Miss  ---------- 
536.41  time;  time  time, 
543.7  dandy  dandies  ---------- 
Part #18 
Sig. NN 
550.8up  was affected  was pleased 
555.3up  Mr.  Mrs. 
560.1up  the German  German 
Sig. OO 
561.1  Palatinate: in  Palatinate. In 
571.6up  the Elephant,  the Pariser Hof, 
Part #19-20 
Sig. PP 
579.7-8  certain debts and the insurance of his life;  certain outstanding debts and liabilities, 
579.17  make  take 
580.5up  Hornby  Horner 
585.3  à vipère   a vipère  
587.5-4up  and at his lordship's side was  and near his lordship was 
588.18up  Fenouil,  Fiche, 
588.1oup  Fenouil,—  Fiche,— 
589.1  Fenouil's  Fiche's 
589.21  in the cushions  on the cushions 
589.29  Fenouil  Fiche 
589.33  Fenouil  Fiche 
589.35  Finelli  Ficci 
590.2  Grey  White 
590.20  Fenouil,  Fiche, 
592.1  sonorous  sournois  
592.3up  94,  90, 


Page 144
First Print.
(from type) 
Printings from Stereo Plates 
Page.Line  First State  Second State  Second Print.  Third Print. 
Sig. QQ 
593.1  92,  ----------  92 
593.7  Fitz  Fritz  ---------- 
598.1-2  such as  like  ---------- 
598.5up  acceptances,  acceptance,  ---------- 
601.7up  seemed to be  also was  ---------- 
601.6up  might have  certainly  ---------- 
602.4  William, he was  William was  ---------- 
602.29  look,  look;  ---------- 
602.29a  and  and,  ---------- 
602.30  place;  place,  ---------- 
603.11up  pure,  pure,—  ---------- 
604.8  Jos eagerly  Mr. Sedley  ---------- 
605.12up  hearing—Tufto,  hearing the tale. Tufto,  ---------- 
605.7up  Mrs. Sedley  Mr. Sedley  ---------- 
607.10  even  ----------  ---------- 
607.12  Major  ----------  ---------- 
NOTE: A fourth printing agrees with the third except at 607.10 eve and at 607.12 Majo
Sig. RR 
617.21up  Captain  and Captain 
617.20up  day at  day on 
617.9up  him  him  
621.15  scenes;  scenes,— 
623.11up  payment: invited  payment. They invited 
623.10up  examination: declared  examination, they declared 
624.imprint  [present]  [omitted] 


Page 145

Chart IV—Six Title-pages for Vanity Fair

Though the characteristics of the first title-page listed below are definitely those of the first printing, the order of the subsequent printings is conjectural. Smith, Elder and Co. reissued the first edition with two relatively accurate title-page dates: 1866 and 1868. (See discussion, p. 126.)

Line  First T-p[1]   Second(?) T-p[2]   Third(?) T-p[3]   Fourth(?) T-p[4]   Fifth(?) T-p[5]   Sixth(?) T-p[6]  
Novel  Novel  Aovel  Aovel  Novel  Aovel 
[3¼ inches]  [3frac116 in.]  [3frac316 in.]  [3frac1116 in.]  [3frac316 in.]  [3frac1316 in.] 
[3⅜ in.]  [3¼ in.]  [3¼ in.]  [3frac116 in.]  [3frac516 in.]  [3frac316 in.] 
1848  1849  1849  1848  1848  1848 


Footnotes for Chart IV


Henry S. Van Duzer, A Thackeray Library (1919; rpt. 1965), pp. 123-132.


Proofs from an unknown auction catalogue in the Lilly Library, Indiana University.


By "first edition" I mean, of course, all printings of Vanity Fair using the type set for the book as it appeared in parts from 1 January 1847 through 1 July 1848. (See Fredson Bowers, Principles of Bibliographical Description [1949], pp. 379ff.) Some collectors use the term to mean only the "first printing," as seems to be the case in David A. Randall's "Notes Towards a Correct Collation of the First Edition of Vanity Fair," PBSA, 42 (1948), 95-109.


W. M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848) p. 50, line 11 up. Further references to Vanity Fair are made in the text within parentheses giving page and, if appropriate, line number in the form (77.25), i.e. page 77, line 25.


Randall, p. 96.


Mr. Pitt (453.31), which was not changed to Sir Pitt until the second edition (London, 1853), seems to be a favorite point, perhaps because its presence in every copy of the first edition makes every owner happy. Other "points" such as the use of roman type for the heading on page 1 and the absence of the Steyne illustration on page 336 first occurred in the third printing of the numbers containing them.


The terms "sheet," "signature," and "gathering" all refer to the same basic unit of the book produced at the printing press. In Vanity Fair, first edition, each gathering consists of sixteen pages (eight leaves) and is signed at the foot of the first and third pages.


Publishers' records are used by permission of Bradbury, Agnew, Ltd., London.


Stereotyping with plaster-of-Paris produces a slightly smaller type-page due to shrinkage of the plaster mold. For further details see P. L. Shillingsburg, "Detecting Stereotype Plate Usage in Mid-Nineteenth Century Books," Editorial Quarterly, 1 (1975), 2-3.


In the Berg Collection, New York Public Library, copy 5 in parts (part 1 only), and copy 1 in bound form (formerly belonging to Charles Dickens—numbers 1, 7-8, and 10-11), and the one copy in the Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University (numbers 1, and 7-11).


See the similar circumstance noted in P. L. Shillingsburg, "The First Edition of Thackeray's Pendennis," PBSA, 66 (1972), 35-49, esp. pp. 36-42.


The records do show that "correction and alteration" of numbers 19-20 cost £3.10.00 on 15 July 1848; that unspecified plate "repair" cost £1.10.00 on 24 February 1849; and that unspecified "mending" of plates cost 15 shillings on 28 February 1857. These charges probably refer to stereotyped plates of text rather than the steel engraved plates of full-page illustrations, for in a separate record of reprints there are standard charges for "bringing up plates and cuts." But it seems unlikely that the record of plate alteration is complete or that the cost of altering stereotyped plates totalled only five or six pounds, particularly when original corrections and night work on parts 19-20 alone came to £11.6.00.


When an alteration in standing type involves the substitution of only one character for another the effect on the rest of the line is usually too small to be noticeable even under careful examination, but larger changes, particularly if the total number of characters in the line is affected, cause alterations in the arrangement of words contiguous to the change which are readily seen in a collating machine. Often the corrector changes the spacing of contiguous words to achieve an even balance of spacing along the line. When similar alterations are made in stereotyped plates, such aesthetic considerations are a luxury generally out of reach. The line (indeed the page) is a solid piece of metal which cannot be moved and pushed about; the new reading replaces the old reading and contiguous words remain frozen in place. If the resulting disproportionate spacing is too obvious, the whole line or perhaps two or three lines are reset, the original plate being cut away to make way for the new material. Most of the alterations in numbers 2-6 and 14-20 of Vanity Fair have an appearance compatible with the effects of changes in plates. Those that do not (confined to numbers 2, 3, and 5) are discussed further in the text and identified with an asterisk in Chart III.


It appears to have been usual practice with publishers then, as now, to post-date works published late in the year; so the Simon Fraser copy probably belongs to the November 1865 printing. I have not actually seen that book which is non-circulating.


My own attempt to provide a critical assessment of the evidence will appear in a special Thackeray issue of Studies in the Novel in 1981.


Copies examined: Univ. of South Carolina, Parts; Berg Collection, NYPL, Parts copies 1, 2, 3, and 4; Univ. of North Carolina, Whittaker copy; Pierpont Morgan Library, copies 1 and 2; and two personally owned copies.


Univ. of South Carolina, V28/1849.


Univ. of South Carolina, V28/c2/1849.


Univ. of South Carolina, V2/1848.


Duke Univ. Library, (only copy).


Pierpont Morgan Library, copy 3.