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    First Impression of the First Edition in Book Form
    of the First Sherlock Holmes Story

    Arthur Conan Doyle. A Study in Scarlet. London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1888. First edition in book form, first impression (with "younger" spelled correctly in the "Publisher's Preface"), of the first Sherlock Holmes story (preceded only by the story's appearance in Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887) and the author's first published work. Octavo. [6], 169, [1, blank] pages, bound without the original printed wrappers or the advertisements at beginning and end. Six full-page illustrations (on pages [32, 57, 64, 98, 124, 158) by the author's father, Charles Doyle (who was by then confined to an asylum on account of his epilepsy and alcoholism). Contemporary red pebbled cloth with gilt title and rules on spine. Binding lightly rubbed, gilt faded on spine, spine tilted forward. Small paper lifts in gutter of title-page and verso of final text page 169. Small stain in the inner margin of pages 6-17 and in the outer lower corner of pages 141-169. Occasional other spots of minor foxing, smudging, or staining. Small paper repair in the upper margin of pages 61 and 62. Pages with light edge wear and occasional corner bends. Overall, a very good copy of a scarce book. Chemised and housed in a custom-made red morocco slipcase with gilt rules on the sides, and with spine ruled and lettered in gilt with five raised bands.

    More Information:

    Green and Gibson A1.a. The Universal Sherlock Holmes C1361 (at


    "A Study in Scarlet was written during March and April 1886. It was sent first to James Payn, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine. Payn liked the book but felt that he could not use it, as it was too much in the style of the 'shilling dreadful'. The book was next offered to Arrowsmith's who received it in May and returned it unread in July. On 21 August it was offered to Warne, who turned it down immediately. Then in September 1886 it went to Ward, Lock and Company. They were prepared to accept the book on certain conditions. It would be held over until the following year because of the quantity of cheap literature then on the market, and the full copyright would have to be sold to them...The author accepted with reluctance [and A Study in Scarlet was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887]. The annual was issued in November 1887 and was sold out before Christmas. A new edition was planned soon afterwards...The size of the first edition of 1888 is not known. The reviews were good. The author mentions pirated editions of this book on more than one occasion, and believed that they were behind the offer from Lippincott's in 1889 which led to the second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of Four" (Green and Gibson, pages 10-11).


    Two of the signatures were reset after the first printing, resulting in a misprint ("younger" becoming "youuger") in paragraph 2, line 3 of the "Publisher's Preface." The two printings are often referred to by these two spellings.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    6th Wednesday
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