MATHIAS SANDORF. Illustrated.
London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1886. 32 pp ads dated Oct 1885. Original blue-grey cloth pictorially decorated in black, white and gilt, board edges beveled, all page edges gilt.
First British Edition of one of Verne's longest -- and scarcest -- tales:
The mysterious Dr. Antekirtt and his companions work to restore the honor of Count Mathias Sandorf and his two associates, who were imprisoned for organizing a revolt against the Austrian rule of Hungary [Kytasaari].
On the front cover, Mathias clings to chains hanging from a steamship, while on the spine he and Stephen Bathory cling to a rope while escaping down a cliff.
As usual, George Munro of New York managed to issue an edition in English before all others (in late 1885, the year of French publication), by doing it in three of his cheap wrappered "Seaside Library" numbers. (At about the same time, George W. Hanna also copyrighted SANDORF'S REVENGE, but no Hanna edition was published; the Munro copyrights cite Hanna's copyrights, indicating that Munro used Hanna's translation.) There were no other early American editions.
In October 1886, Sampson Low published this quite thick, fully-illustrated edition. One reason this UK title is so scarce it that it was in the middle of the 1883-1887 stretch of some of Sampson Low's scarcest Verne titles (i.e., small printings) -- following THE GREEN RAY and KERABAN THE INFLEXIBLE and THE ARCHIPELAGO ON FIRE and THE VANISHED DIAMOND, and succeeded by THE CLIPPER OF THE CLOUDS and THE LOTTERY TICKET and THE FLIGHT TO FRANCE and NORTH AGAINST SOUTH. The other reason this title is so scarce in nice condition is that it was one of Verne's longest tales and bulkiest volumes -- 192+199 pages, paginated thusly (Sampson Low had planned to issue this in two volumes, but never did); in this deluxe binding it was priced at 10s6d, compared to the usual 7s6d. In the original French, this was one of three so-called "triple" size tales: the other two (THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and [THE CHILDREN OF CAPTAIN GRANT]) came out in the UK in three volumes.
Atypically, the ad catalogue in this copy is dated October 1885, rather than the usual October 1886. As a result of its bulk, MATHIAS SANDORF typically turns up today in wretched condition, often falling apart -- but not here. This is a remarkably handsome example, unusually clean and bright, in FINE condition (one tiny nick at the foot of the spine, slight fading on the rear cover, original delicate endpapers only slightly cracked); there is a faint Christmas 1886 signature on the corner of the front endpaper. A rare book in this condition. Taves & Michaluk V028; Myers 38. Item #15233