Price and Provenance 2

What are these three editions of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen?

This is an example of how to establish the identity and provenance of books. In this part of the blog I am concentrating on the precise identification of books. I am going to compare these three books and then look at each in detail to see what we can learn about its origin. In the next posting, I will demonstrate how to investigate their provenance.

Here (Figure 1) are three different editions of Mansfield Park, all published more than 50 years after the first edition, which was published in 1814 in London by John Murray in three volumes. Only the left hand book has any extra information on the front of the binding, properly called the top board. In the upper cartouche is the phrase “Inestimable Stones Unvalued Jewels” and in the lower cartouche the phrase “The Ruby Series”. Inestimable Stones Unvalued Jewels is a quotation from Shakespeare’s play Richard III Act 1 Scene 4: “Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, All scatter’d in the bottom of the sea“.

We can often roughly date a book by examining the appearance, style, materials and quality of the binding. All three books are cloth bound in predominantly red cloth, with two of them decorated with gilding. The Ruby Series binding is in a geometric style that is suggestive of the 1860-1880 period. The central book has an Art Nouveau look to it, and the style of the dress of the woman shown reading is Edwardian, which suggests a date range of 1900 – 1910. The right hand book with its ornate floral design suggests the broader late Victorian and Edwardian period of 1875 – 1910. All of these opinions are entirely subjective and represent my feeling on first seeing the books.

The next thing to do when examining any book is to look at the title page to see what information is present, and, all too often, what information is missing. On the three title pages, which are reproduced below (Figure 2), you can see that two of these books were published by George Routledge and Sons, while the third was published by Miles and Miles. None of the title pages cites a publication date. Here are the three title pages:

All three books are clearly editions of Mansfield Park published in London. After the title, all three pages repeat the same text ‘ BY JANE AUSTEN Author of “Northanger Abbey,” “Persuasion,” “Emma” etc, etc’, with some slight differences in fonts and cases. It is quite unusual for exactly these same three books to be cited in the same way; indeed, it is much more common for Austen to be cited as the author of Pride and Prejudice and/or Sense and Sensibility on title pages of the other Austen novels.

The left hand and central books are both published by George Routledge and Sons, with some differences in the address. In the left hand book, Routledge’s address is given as The Broadway Ludgate, followed by New York: 416 Broome Street. In the central book, the address is given as Broadway House, Ludgate Hill with no New York address. The central book also has an ornamented capital R device, obviously a colophon or logo for the publisher. The right hand book is published by Miles and Miles at Foresters’ Hall Place, Clerkenwell Road EC. The close similarity of the printed text concerning the author suggests that all three books are related.

The next thing to examine is the page count of the text of the novel, normally called the “text block”, and to have a look at the appearance of the text. The left hand book has a text block of 288 pages, whereas the central and right hand books both have text blocks of 443 pages. The first page of each text block is shown in Figure 3 below.

It is quite clear from Figure 3 that the two editions published by Routledge look different, but that the text block of the Miles and Miles edition seems to be exactly the same as the Routledge edition in the central panel, both in terms of page count, decoration and appearance. It is hard to get a proper impression of the quality of the pages from the images, but both the paper and print quality of the Routledge edition in the central panel is superior to both of the other two editions. How should we proceed from here?

Other relevant printed information

If we look at The Ruby Series edition of Mansfield Park, there are three other helpful pieces of printed information that can be found. These are a frontispiece, the printer’s details and some pages of publisher’s advertisements. These are shown in Figure 4 below.

The frontispiece is a fairly low quality wood engraving. It is disfigured by a large horizontal black ink smear, which is a printing defect that runs through the heads of the man and the woman. There are no artists’ names nor is there a date on the frontispiece image. This is disappointing, as we can often find both an engraver and and artist name in book illustrations. Dates are rarer, but can sometimes be found in illustrations. However, illustrations are not always original images made for a particular book; they can often be recycled and reused.

The last page of the text block, shown in the central panel of Figure 4 above, indicates a page count of 288 pages. Also, as is often the case, the last page of the text block bears the name of the printer. In this case, it is “Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.” which is printed at the bottom of p.288. This information is often useful because the printer’s relationship with the publisher, the form of the name of the printing company and the address of the printer all may be associated with particular date ranges. In this case, we know from the Library of Congress records that this was the address for Woodfall and Kinder from 1865 to 1887.

Publisher’s advertisements in books can be very revealing. In this case there is some frustration, as it seems that the publisher’s advertising block of four leaves may be incomplete, as after the unnumbered first advert page, the following page numbers are present; 4,13,14,19,20,29,30. The page shown in the right hand panel of Figure 4, p.4, is the verso of the first advert page, suggesting that the publishers printed advertising pages that were extracted from a larger document. The most useful entry in the advert block is the entry two thirds of the way down the page shown in Figure 4, which reads “Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual for 1876”. Annuals, by their nature are produced every year, so this entry strongly suggests the period 1876-1877 for the publication of The Ruby Series.

The other Routledge edition of Mansfield Park shown in the central panel of Figure 1 above also has a frontispiece and a block of advertisements, which are shown in Figure 5 below.

The frontispiece is a photographically produced half tone image that has an artist’s name, Sydney Carter, in the lower right hand corner. The picture shows Edward Bertram riding with Mrs Crawford, an incident from Chapter 7 of Mansfield Park. The frontispiece has no date. The decorated capital ‘R’ colophon for Routledge first appears on the title page of Routledge and Sons publications in 1903, and appears consistently on their publications until 1920. There is a four page block of publisher’s advertisements bound at the end of the text block. It consists of advertisements for books in Routledge’s Popular Library and Routledge’s Popular Poets, all of which were priced at 3/6. (three shillings and sixpence). An investigation of the book titles in the advertisements show that these items were first published by Routledge in the 1880s and 1890s.

There is also a printer’s name and address printed on the verso of the title page. It reveals the printer to be “London and County Printing Works, Bazaar Buildings, London, W.C.” This refers to the printer L. Upcott Gill, who worked at this address, which is in Drury Lane. There is evidence for the firm operating at that address at least between 1902 and 1907, including the printing of a book for Routledge in 1903.

When we consider the Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park, the situation is both much simpler and less helpful. There is no frontispiece present nor any other illustrations, there is no printer identified and there is no block of advertisements. So, where should we go from here?

Consult the Experts or Ask a Friend?

At this point, it is generally best to look at what is known about different editions of Jane Austen, and what is known about the two publishers, George Routledge and Sons and Miles and Miles. We now need to consult the most reliable bibliographic sources available. Another useful approach can be to consult WorldCat on line, which gives listings of holdings of books in thousands of libraries around the world. This can be a convenient way to access the Library of Congress and The British Library. For this investigation, I am going to stick to the standard bibliographies which provide far more detail. However, you do need to have access to copies of them. One of the essential elements of book collecting is to build a practical and working bibliographic library, appropriate to your collecting needs.

There are four bibliographic sources for Jane Austen. These are by Michael Sadlier (1888-1957), the authority on the publication of literature in 19th century England. His XIX Century Fiction: A Bibliographic Record, Constable, London 1951, based on his own collection, is the best general authority on 19th century publications. More specific and detailed bibliographies of Jane Austen were published by Geoffrey Keynes (1887-1982) Jane Austen: A Bibliography. Nonesuch Press, 1929 and Robert Chapman (1881-1960) Jane Austen: A Critical Bibliography Oxford University Press 1969. The current standard authority is David Gilson (1938-2014) in his massive A Bibliography of Jane Austen, 2nd edition, Oak Knoll Press, Newcastle, Delaware, USA , 1997.

The identification system used by Gilson is a combination of a letter which represents a class of publications, followed by a number which identifies the edition within that class, with the numbers assigned in chronological order. The letter and number codes are as follows in the 1997 edition:

  • A1 – A9 Original UK editions
  • B1 – B7 Original US editions
  • C1 – C249 Non-English translations
  • D1 – D13 Editions published by Bentley
  • E1 – E425 Later editions 1838 -1976
  • F1 – F24 Minor works by Austen
  • G1 – G7 Austen’s letters
  • H1 – H50 Dramatisations
  • J1 – J14 Continuations and completions
  • K1 – K20 Books owned by Jane Austen
  • L1 – L48 Miscellaneous
  • M1 – M1814 Biography and Criticism

When we consult Gilson, and similarly with Sadlier, Keynes and Chapman, the first thing to note is that there is no mention of Miles and Miles as a publisher of Jane Austen. However, there is quite a lot of detail on George Routledge in Gilson. Routledge published different inexpensive editions of Jane Austen, starting in 1849 with Sense and Sensibility recorded as Gilson E12 and Pride and Prejudice as Gilson E13. The publisher’s name and address on both of these is given as George Routledge and Co., Soho Square. These two titles reappeared in several reprinted editions throughout the 1850s.

Gilson also noted a 288 page edition of Mansfield Park published by George Routledge and Co., Farringdon Street; and 18 Beekman Street New York dated 1857 (Gilson E23). He noted that E23 was reprinted by Routledge in 1876 as a part of The Ruby Series, which Gilson recorded as E44. Gilson also noted that E44 was bound in a blue daisy-patterned cloth, with no date on the title page. The publisher’s details were given as George Routledge and Sons, The Broadway, Ludgate; New York 416 Broome Street. He also noted that the British Library copy had four leaves of publisher’s advertisements bound in. He also stated that E44 had a wood engraved frontispiece which depicted Edward Bertram and Mary Crawford on the park seat at Sotherton. From the list shown below, 416 Broome Street was the New York address for Routledge from 1866 – 1881.

I think the identity of my Ruby Series Mansfield Park is now clearly established as Gilson E44, published in 1876 in an alternative binding to that described by Gilson.

Gilson reports later editions of Austen printed by George Routledge and Sons, including all six novels in 1883, which included a 433 page edition of Mansfield Park (Gilson E61). These 1883 editions were all undated on the title page, but showed the publisher’s address as Broadway, Ludgate Hill; New York, 9 Lafayette Place. Gilson mentions that several of the 1883 editions of Jane Austen published by Routledge have been recorded by other researchers as reprinted by George Routledge and Sons in 1898 and 1899 as “The Steventon Edition”.

I have three of “The Steventon Edition” volumes of Jane Austen published by George Routledge and Sons in my personal library. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of “The Steventon Edition” of Mansfield Park. The bindings and title pages are shown below (Figure 6.) This are clearly Art Nouveau style bindings. The phrase “The Steventon Edition” appears blind stamped just above the gilded titles.

My copies of Sense and Sensibility and Emma shown in Figure 6 above both have frontispieces that are clearly stylistically very similar to that shown for the Routledge Mansfield Park in Figure 5. They are all signed Sydney Carter, all produced by the same photographic halftone process and all have the same style of caption. Sadly, the Northanger Abbey/Persuasion in Figure 6 has apparently lost its frontispiece.

The title pages in Figure 6. are all similar but have some slight differences. None of these “Steventon” editions have the decorated R colophon on the title page. The other Jane Austen titles cited following the author’s name are printed slightly differently, and the addresses on the Emma and Northanger Abbey/Persuasion are given exactly as on the Mansfield Park in Figure 5 Broadway House, Ludgate Hill, whereas the address on the Sense and Sensibility is given as Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Manchester and New York. The “Manchester and New York” printed on the Sense and Sensibility is indicative of a publication date from 1892 to 1897. The other two books were probably published in the period 1900-1902.

For more details on how to identify the publication date of books published by George Routledge, go to my George Routledge Publisher page.

From the images of the first page (Figure 7), the style of these three books closely matches the styles of the Miles and Miles Mansfield Park and the Routledge Mansfield Park in the centre of Figure 2. If we look at the text blocks of these three Steventon editions, we find they are 379, 444 and 448 pages for Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Northanger Abbey/Persuasion respectively. This exactly matches the page counts for the 1883 Routledge editions of these titles recorded by Gilson as E60, E63 and E64. The printer for these books is identified as “Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, 70-76 Long Acre, London, W.C.” According to the Library of Congress, this is the address for this printing firm from 1888 to around 1900.

George Routledge the publisher

What do we know abut George Routledge the publisher? Fortunately, the company records for George Routledge, who lived from 1812 to 1888, have survived, and are held by University College London. Inspection of these records reveal how the description of the company and its addresses changed over 100 years. They are summarised in the following list: The numbers in brackets are the street addresses, which sometimes were printed in full, but often the number was omitted.

  • 1836-1843 George Routledge 11 Ryders Court, Leicester Square, London
  • 1843-1851 George Routledge and Co., (36) Soho Square, London
  • 1852-1858 George Routledge and Co., Farringdon Street
  • 1858-1859 Routledge, Warnes and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1860-1864 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1865 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1865-1866 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1866-1878 George Routledge and Sons, The Broadway Ludgate
  • 1879-1886 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill

From 1854 to 1886, the address of the New York office was often printed below the London address. From 1887 to 1902, New York address no longer appeared on the title pages. All of the years from 1887-1890 start LONDON | George Routledge and Sons. and from 1890 onward LONDON | George Routledge and Sons Limited.

  • 1887-1888 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow and New York
  • 1889-1892 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow Manchester and New York
  • 1892-1897 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Manchester and New York
  • 1895-1902 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1900-1911 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway House, Ludgate Hill
  • 1903-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited |New York E.P. Dutton and Co.
  • 1912-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited | Broadway House 68-74 Carter Lane E.C.

The New York addresses are shown below.

  • 1854-1859 18 Beekman Street. New York
  • 1859-1864 56 Walker Street. New York
  • 1864-1866 129 Grand Street. New York
  • 1866-1881 416 Broome Street. New York
  • 1881-1886 9 Lafayette place New York
  • 1887-1902 New York (American only publications will still use 9 Lafayette Place)
  • 1903-1945 New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.

For more details on how to identify the publication date of books published by George Routledge, go to my George Routledge Publisher page.

From all of these considerations, it seems clear that the Routledge edition of Mansfield Park shown in the central panel of Figure 1 must be a reprint of the 1883 Routledge edition described by Gilson as E62. The Steventon editions are also reprints of the 1883 editions, probably printed between 1892 and 1900. My Mansfield Park with the woman reading on the cover is almost certainly another, later reprint of E61, printed between 1903 and 1906, because of the evidence of the title page style and the printer and publisher’s addresses. As will be seen in Part 3 of the blog, there is another piece of evidence which supports this.

How can we identify the Miles and Miles edition, which is lacking in any evidence other than the name and address of the publisher and the style of the binding and the text block. Fortunately for me, Janine Barchas in her excellent “The Lost Novels of Jane Austen” published in 2019 by Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA , has explored the origin of the Miles and Miles editions of Jane Austen. In chapter 2, Professor Barchas relates an impressive account of how the stereotype printing plates, which were created by Routledge and Sons for their 1883 editions of Jane Austen (Gilson E60 -E64) were sold or leased to other publishers to produce cheap editions of the books. She shows how Lever Brothers, soap manufacturers at Port Sunlight in Cheshire, UK, issued at least 100 titles from stereotype plates between 1890 and 1897, which included a copy of Sense and Sensibility in her own possession, and copies of Pride and Prejudice which are all clearly printed from the Routledge stereotype plates of 1883.

Janine Barchas has also identified that several books on the Lever Brothers list were also published by Miles and Miles in at least three binding styles, one described as The Marguerite Series, another as The Sundial Series and a third unnamed series which corresponds to the Miles and Miles binding of my Mansfield Park shown in Figure 1. She also identified the use of these same stereotype plates to produce even shoddier and cheaper looking editions by other publishers including Standard Authors, The Londoner Press and John Heywood Ltd of Manchester. Clearly a range of different publishers have had access to the same stereotype plates to produce cheap editions of Jane Austen in the period 1890 to 1905, perhaps even to 1910.

Finally, Janine Barchas noted that The British Library has a copy of Mansfield Park, published by Miles and Miles, tentatively dated to 1900 by an inscription. All of the above leads me to believe that my Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park is another reprint from the Routledge stereotype plates of 1883, printed some time between 1900 and 1906. For more on Miles and Miles see Price and Provenance 5.

The conclusions for the dating of all three of my editions of Mansfield Park are summarised in Figure 8 below. For an account of the establishment of provenance and prior ownership of these and other related books, please refer to the following section of the blog Price and Provenance 3.


Revised and updated 21 April 2020.