From the archive

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The elusive Dutch fourth edition of Around the world in 80 days published by the Koster brothers (1877)

After the publication of the first edition of Rondom de wereld, in tachtig dagen (Around the world in 80 days) by Tjeenk Willink in 1874, a second and third edition of this same book appeared in rapid succession in 1875 and 1876, both by publisher P. van Santen (under the new title De reis om de wereld in 80 dagen). Although the latter would also publish a fifth edition in April 1877, a mysterious fourth edition appeared that same year by the Koster Brothers of Amsterdam.

An inspection of the fourth and fifth editions revealed that they are fully identical, apart from the title page which carries the name of the publishers. Particularly revealing is the small print underneath the first pages of all of the book sections, which reads: “WERELD, 4e dr.” (World, 4th edition).

The new Jules Verne Bibliography, 2007, therefore concludes: “section markings show that the fourth and fifth editions are part of a joint fourth printing of this title”. The Koster brothers ran a so-called ‘modern antiquarian bookshop’ in Amsterdam which dealt in leftovers from other publishing houses or titles that were acquired at auctions.

The relative scarcity of the fourth edition by Koster can be attributed to the small number of copies, which were in addition only stitched and not hard bound and therefore more vulnerable (note that the fourth edition is sometimes also found in the traditional blue cover binding of Van Santen or even Robbers, but such products are not original).

An advertisement we found in the Advertentieblad voor de stad Gorinchem en omstreken (Advertiser for the town of Gorinchem and surroundings) of June 29th 1877 clearly shows in which way the fourth edition was used by the Koster brothers:

Advertisement: “Around the World” offered as a gift when buying other books
Advertisement in which Around the World is offered as a gift when buying other books.

This ad reads amongst other things: “those who buy a copy of the Adventures of the Baron of Münchhausen, reduced to f 2,50 will receive a free copy of Jules Verne’s Around the world in 80 days, with 56 illustrations, original edition, of which the price nationwide is not a penny less than f 1,50. […] Mind you, this is not a lousy picture-book of which there are many, but the real work of Jules Verne, with all illustrations, Leiden edition […]”

Now we see what actually happened: the Koster Brothers bought part of the new edition which Van Santen was preparing (he was indeed based at Leiden) and with his consent, fitted this with a new title page, and published this as the fourth edition. It was used as a premium to enhance sales of relatively expensive books.

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