Translated by Ellen E. Frewer. Illustrated by L. Benett. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1881. One page undated ads (priced in sterling). Original bright red cloth decorated in black and gilt.
First Illustrated American Edition (also the first to be issued in a decorative cloth binding) of one of Verne's odder tales... Wealthy Chinaman hears that his fortune is lost. Opts for honorable suicide by arranging for a friend to kill him. Learns that his fortune isn't lost after all. Tells friend thanks but there is no need to kill him. Friend replies that he has already arranged for some thug to do the deed and now can't contact him...
This Verne title is also unusual in that all three early publishers of this tale, on both sides of the Atlantic, ultimately published it in the exact same cloth binding (showing several characters "afloat on their backs, propelled by the wind caught in minisails attached to toe-masts, controlled by waistband halyards" [T&M]).
The first edition in English was published in September 1879 by Lee & Shepard of Boston, translated by Virginia Champlin and unillustrated, both in wrappers and in plain cloth. By November, George Munro then published it in wrappers in his Seaside Library. About a year later (October 1880 but dated 1881), Dutton of New York published the tale as here, from the British plates (a different translation, by Ellen Frewer) -- with fifty full-page illustrations from the original French edition, and in the binding designed by Sampson Low. In November Sampson Low published it in England (perhaps waiting to make it a holiday offering). Finally, a year after this (September or October 1881) Lee & Shepard re-published the Champlin translation but with the fifty illustrations that had appeared in the Dutton and Sampson Low editions, and in the same binding they had used.
This copy is in bright red cloth, one of several colors used without priority, and is in near-fine condition (just a hint of wear at the spine ends, but unusually bright; the front endpaper bears a Christmas 1880 gift inscription, verifying the book's actual year of publication). Taves & Michaluk V020. Item #10597