There are no easy ways to tell first editions. Many presses kept no records of their practices, while others varied so often that it's hard to list hard and fast "rules." Then there are "points" for individual books--dust jackets or bindings that were peculiar to the first books off the press though others may be labelled "firsts" according to the publisher's method. In general, though, many books published prior to the 1920s went by the widespread practice of publishing the date on the title page as well as on the copyright page. More recently, most publishers have adopted a numbering system where there are two sequences of numbers, one set indicating date and the other indicating edition. The lowest number is the one that matters. But look at new books carefully. Many say "first edition" but sport a number 2 or 3. With contemporary books, remember that 85 percent of the value is in the dust jacket, so avoid booksellers who glue security bars onto the insides of their dust jackets. Below are variations that will help you to identify first editions in the field: at antique stores, used bookstores, and garage sales. Print it out and carry it with you. Happy hunting!

Andre Deutsch--"First Published" and date

Appleton-Century--(l) on last pg; since l982, number system

Atheneum--"First Edition" or "First Am. Edition"

Atlantic Monthly--l925-l976, same date on title/copyright pgs; "First Edition" thereafter

Avon--"First Avon Printing"

Boni & Liveright--subsequent editions marked

Citadel--"First Edition" or without subsequent printings listed

Crown--subsequent additions marked; number system since l980 & words "First Edition"

Delacourte Press--"First Printing"

Dial Press--"First Printing"

Dodd Mead--same dates on title/copyright pgs.

Doubleday--"First Edition"

E.P. Dutton--since l976, "First Printing"

Farrar & Rinehart--F&R oval colophon above copyright line

Farrar, Strauss --Colophon on copyright page

Farrar, Strauss & Giroux--"First Printing/Edition"

Fawcett--number system (must have "1" as lowest)

Fiction Collective--"First Edition"

Georgia (Univ. of)--number system

Grove Press--"First Printing"

HBJ--"First Edition"

Harper & Bros./Harper & Row--"First Edition"

Henry Holt & Co.--same date on title/copyright page; l976 ff., "First Edition"

Houghton Mifflin--date on title page; (some exceptions); number system on recent books

Knopf--nothing, before l933; then "First Edition" or "First Am. Edition"

J.B. Lippincott--"First Edition" or same dates on title/copyright pgs

Little, Brown & Co.--single line on copyright page, w/ mo. & yr.

Horace Liveright--markings on subsequent editions only

Iowa (Univ. of)--currently number system; early books not known

MacMillan--reprintings identified, otherwise a first; since l968, "First PublishedÓ & one date" ; nos.now.

McGraw Hill--"First Edition" or n.d. w/o further printings listed or number system

Wm. Morrow--"First Printing"; in later volumes "First Edition" and number system

New American Library--"First Printing" month/yr

New Mexico (Univ. of)--"First Edition" and number system

W.W. Norton--"First Edition"

Oxford--"First Edition" or single copyright line w/date of printing

Pantheon--"First Edition" and number system

Pegasus--"First Printing"

Phaidon--subsequent editions marked

Prentice-Hall--"First Edition"

G.P. Putnam's--subsequent editions marked

Random House--"First Edition" or "First Printing"--w/exceptions

Rinehart & Co.--R colophon in a circle above copyright line

Chas. Scribner's--before l930, same date on title/copyright page or w/o later printings listed; l930-72, A on copyright page; thereafter, number system

Simon & Schuster--"First Printing" or w/o subsequent editions listed; nos. now

Stanton & Lee--same dates on title/copy pgs

St. Martin's-- rarely designates first eds; subsequent printings identified

Storyline Press--"First American Printing"

Ticknor & Co./Fields--same dates title/copyright

Frederick Ungar--subsequent editions marked

Viking--subsequent editions marked; nos. now

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