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Generally speaking collectible value is loosely based condition, scarcity, and the chronological printing order. I thought it might help to trace Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird from manuscript to first edition thus, to help illustrate the different uses of the word “first” in modern book collecting. So it  starts with the original work of the author…

THE MANUSCRIPT

Before an edition is sent out for sale to the general public, the publisher will print a limited number of copies for the author, for review, or any number of in house purposes. They are collective known as advance proofs, uncorrected proofs, galleys, review copies, etc.. An ADVANCE PROOF is an intermediary step between manuscript and first edition.

THE ADVANCE PROOF

As a general rule the FIRST EDITION can be defined as the first appearance of a work offered for sale to the public in it’s final and finished form.

THE FIRST EDITION

Most books are usually printed in small batches. The first of these batches is called the FIRST PRINTING (of the first edition). Many books have only one printing, but if there is demand a SECOND PRINTING can be sent out by the publisher, and a THIRD PRINTING, and so on, and so on… When we use the term First edition what we really mean is First edition: First printing.
Now sometimes there are small changes made during printings. For example a misspelling might be found. Usually it is something easily corrected, and often unnoticed. Now lets say a small misspelling was corrected, all of the books prior to this correction would be included in the FIRST STATE, and all copies with the correction would be part of the SECOND STATE.

Now we come to the problem of books printed outside the native country of the writer. When a book is published in a country that is not the native country of the author we add the name of the country, in this case the FIRST U. K. EDITION. It is generally accepted that the edition published in the country of origin of the author is the TRUE FIRST EDITION.

THE FIRST U. K. EDITION

What happens if other publishers decide to print there own first editions?  When a book that has already been published is printed again by a new publisher, usually with some new addition such as illustrations, we call the new edition a first edition thus or FIRST EDITION THUS. In the case of our Harper Lee title the Franklin Library published an edition bound in full leather, with gilt page edges, silk end pages, and ribbon book mark. Now while not the true first edition of the work it is the first edition (and first printing) by the Franklin Library – First Edition Thus.

THE FIRST EDITION THUS

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