[a handsome copy] or, The Marvellous and Exciting Adventures of Pierre Aronnax... Translated from the French. One Hundred and Ten Illustrations. (Edition of James R. Osgood & Co.) Sold Only by Subscription. Boston: Geo. M. Smith & Co., 1873. Original green cloth decorated in gilt and black.
First American Edition, second and usual "Smith" issue, of Verne's famous tale of Captain Nemo and the submarine Nautilus. Considerable confusion surrounds the relationship of the two Boston 1873 title pages that can appear in this title -- the James R. Osgood & Company title page, and this usual Geo. M. Smith & Co. one (which refers to the Osgood one and indicates "sold by subscription only"). The bindings of the two are nearly identical (the Osgood binding reads "...UNDER THE SEA" and bears a jellyfish in the center of the front cover, whereas the Smith binding properly reads "...UNDER THE SEAS" and has Captain Nemo using a sextant on the front cover). Clearly the Osgood one is a bit earlier and is much scarcer: supposedly only about fifteen copies were known to exist, but we have handled more than a dozen of them over the past 20 years (all between $12,000 and $27,500), so our guess would be more like fifty. One theory is that the Osgood title page may have designated the subscription issue, and that the Smith one, being much less scarce, must have designated the subsequent trade issue. Another possibility is that most of the Osgood edition was consumed by a Boston fire.~This copy is a standard copy without gilt page edges (a deluxe feature for which the original buyer paid extra). The leaves bulk about 1-3/8" thick (some copies are on thicker paper -- no known priority). On the final page of text, there is no "THE END" (some copies have it, some have it partially, and some do not have it at all; this is not an "issue point" as is sometimes claimed, but merely a case of type slippage during a single print run, with no bearing upon which copies were actually first to reach the public).~As for condition, this is a bright, just-about-fine copy (a few tiny speckles on the front cover but otherwise no external soil or wear; label removed from a corner of the front free endpaper); remarkably, the original dark brown endpapers of this hefty volume are still entirely intact.. Taves & Michaluk V006; Myers 56. Item #13653