Description

    A[rthur]. Conan Doyle. The Sign of Four. London: Spencer Blackett, 1890. First edition in book form, first issue, with the numeral "138" on the contents page incomplete and reading "13," and with the misprint "w shed" for "wished" on page 56, line 16, as usual. First issue binding, with foot of spine reading "SPENCER BLACKETT'S / Standard / Library." Octavo (7.375 x 5 inches; 187 x 127 mm.). [2, title (verso blank)], [2, contents (verso blank)], 283, [1, blank] pages. Without the 32-page publisher's catalogue for October 1890 inserted at the end of some copies. Frontispiece by Charles Kerr (without tissue guard). Original dark red fine diagonal-ribbed cloth decoratively stamped in black with a double-rule frame enclosing a tooth design with floral devices in the outer corners continuing onto the spine and rear cover; front cover and spine lettered in gilt. All edges uncut. Black coated endpapers. Rebacked, with original spine laid down, and possibly recased, with neat repairs at spine ends and corners; corners and board edges slightly bumped; hinges repaired; endpapers blistered in places. Covers with a few areas of slight discoloration and with cloth blistering in a few places; gilt a little dulled, especially on spine. Front free endpaper, frontispiece, title leaf, and contents leaf chipped and curled a little at fore-edge; two faint red stains on recto of frontispiece, not affecting image on verso; small stain in lower margin of frontispiece and on title-page; title somewhat soiled; some additional minor marginal soiling and edge browning. Over-opened between pages 158 and 159; a few leaves poorly opened; small piece torn from fore-edge of pages 57/58; tiny tear and sliver hanging at upper edge of pages 245/246 and 247/248; a few additional short marginal tears. Overall, still an excellent copy, internally generally clean. Housed in a custom red morocco book-backed clamshell case. De Waal 279. Green and Gibson A7a. From the KoKo Collection.

    More Information:

    "The Sign of the Four" was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Philadelphia, February 1890.

    "The story was written during September and completed at the beginning of October. When it was finished [Doyle] again wrote to Stoddart about the title. 'You promised to collaborate with me in this book, so I want you to name it, which will surely make you a bona fide collaborator. "The Sign of the Four" strikes me as likely to be popular, but a trifle catchpenny. "The Problem of the Sholtos" is more choice though less dramatic.' He left the final choice to Stoddart, who used both. The title was later to be the subject of some controversy as the manuscript has 'The Sign of Four'. It is now certain that the author originally used the longer title though preferred the shorter" (Green and Gibson, page 41).



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