08 May, 2015

F Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby First Edition


--- "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Here it is, my copy of the American classic - The Great Gatsby. It is without the famed all-seeing eyes of melancholy because I can't afford it now, but in the orgastic future, if I stretch my arms further... Anyway, this is a rather handsome copy, considering its age, from my Great Gatsby Gala that we will have to make do for now.


Based on a New Yorker article, only about twenty thousand copies were sold by the end of 1925 (the book was published in April of the same year). There was a second printing of three thousand copies and "when Fitzgerald died in 1940 the book was hard to find" because the book did not sell well and no bookstore would carry it. I read somewhere that Scribner's warehouse still had copies from the second printing in 1940.


The book has a green board with the title and author's name embossed, but not gilt, at the top and bottom respectively. The spine has, in gilt, the title and "Fitzgerald" at the top, and "Scribner" at the bottom. For most of the first edition without the dust jacket, the amount of gilt on the spine has become a valuation point. Copies without the gilt on spine tend to fetch around one to two thousand dollars while those with gilt tend to be higher. Another point of considering the physical condition of the boards. Clean boards with clear embossments, sharp corners and no chipping on the spine are preferred. Finally, check the pages and the edges for foxing. Needless to say, copies with less foxing are more valuable than those with heavy stain or dust marks.

To identify a first edition, check the following:
  • "1925" at the bottom of the title page. The US copy published by Charles Scribner is the first edition.
  • "Copyright, 1925" at the top of the copyright page and the Scribner Seal at the bottom, and no mention of additional printing.
  • "chatter" on line 16 of page 60, which was changed to "echolalia" in later editions.
  • "northern" on line 22 of page 119, which was changed to “southern” in later editions.
  • "it's" on line 16 of page 165, which was changed to “its” in later editions.
  • “sick in tired” on lines 9-10 of page 205, which was changed to “sickantired" in later editions.
  • “Union Street” on line 7 of page 211, which was changed to "Union" in later editions.

Clear embossments of the title and author name on the front board.

The solander box that protects this American classic.

The gilt on the spine still looks very good after 90 years, and there are no chippings on the top and bottom of the spine.

The full title page, with Charles Scribner and 1925 printed at the bottom. Notice some light staining of the paper, which is common, but avoid copies with heavy staining or water damage.

The copyright page should have the Scribner seal at the bottom, and "Copyright, 1925" at the top with no mention of additional print.

The book is dedicated to Zelda, Fitzgerald's wife. For a great fictional book on their relationship, read Tender is the Night.

The first page of the novel.

This is the last page. The book is actually quite short at 218 pages, especially if we compare it to Moby Dick or Huckleberry Finn.

The top edge is trimmed but the fore edge is not. Note the very sharp corners, which are desirable.

"chatter" on line 16 of page 60, which was changed to "echolalia" in later editions.

"northern" on line 22 of page 119, which was changed to “southern” in later editions.

"it's" on line 16 of page 165, which was changed to “its” in later editions.

“sick in tired” on lines 9-10 of page 205, which was changed to “sickantired" in later editions.

“Union Street” on line 7 of page 211, which was changed to "Union" in later editions.

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