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    1776 Edition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense

    [Thomas Paine]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, On the Following Interesting Subjects ... Written by an Englishman. Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776.

    Second edition. Twelvemo. [iv], [1] 2-79 [1, publisher's advertisement]; [ii, consisting of title: "Large Additions..." ; and "The American Patriot's Prayer"], [81] 82-87 [88, publisher's advertisement], [89] 90-119 [120, printed page: "The following additions...postscript to the introduction..." (dated Philadelphia, February 14, 1776)], [121, appendix] 122-147 [148, "remainder of these additions..."] pages. Collation: [A]2, B-I4, [no J signature], K-L4, [second title appears inserted], [M]-T4, U2.

    Late nineteenth-century half red morocco over marbled boards. Raised bands and gilt lettering on spine. Binding is a faded on the spine, and a bit rubbed around the edges. Marbled endpapers and edges. Bookplate on front pastedown endpaper. General browning and foxing to sheets, mostly light but heaviest to preliminary and terminal leaves and around titles, and to signature E. Small hole to bottom of title, approximately 4mm. Second title with a bit of soiling as well. Paper repair to H1 recto with repaired tear visible on both sides and affecting about 11 lines of text (mostly the words right at the fore-edge margin. A couple of pages with folds at the top fore-edge corners. With a contemporary [ownership?] signature of Thos. Midn. Potters to the middle of the page on E1 verso. Very good. Altogether, a very pleasing copy of what is sometimes referred to as Bell's Combined edition, which was not authorized by Paine, but was issued early on after the first edition sold out.

    The first edition of Common Sense went on sale January 8th, 1776 and quickly sold out. Reprints appeared almost immediately. Soon R. Bell came out with the expanded, second edition, bound with Large Additions to Common Sense (which in the second edition may be found on pages 82 through 147). Howes, in U.S.iana, maintains that "Paine was not the author of these Additions; they were gathered from various sources by Bell to make his edition 3 larger than the enlarged edition issued at Philadelphia by Bradford, to whom Paine had turned after his estrangement from Bell."

    From The Life of Thomas Paine, by Thomas Clio Rickman: "Common Sense, it appears, was universally read and approved: the first edition sold almost immediately; and the second, with very large additions, was before the public soon after." Rickman goes on to quote Paine on the success of Common Sense: "'The success it met with was beyond any thing since the invention of printing. I gave the copyright up to every state in the Union, and the demand ran to not less than one hundred thousand copies, and I continued the subject under the title of American Crisis, till the complete establishment of the American Revolution.'"

    Howes P15, P22. Rickman, page 61 & 63. Sabin 58213.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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