Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.  Hardcover book published by Charles Scribner's Sons 1940.

When I look at a book like this one for the first time, there are certain things I want to know… OK, there is ONE thing I want to know. Is this a first edition?  A quick look at Wikipedia shows me that the book was first published in 1940 and was published by Charles Scribner's Sons… so far I’m winning, but your know Wiki is good for that quick piece of info… but I need something a little more solid than Wikipedia.  This is a great website for just this sort of verification (First Edition Points) and I find out:
“The first edition has an "A" on the copyright page. However, there is some debate over whether the Scribner's seal should also be present on the copyright page. Other Scribner's books published around the same time such as To Have and Have Not, The Yearling, The Dark Horse, The Last Tycoon, and Cross Creek all have both the "A" and the seal. On the other hand we have not seen or heard about a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls with both.”
So I check Ernie’s book and it has an “A” and indeed the photo they have on First Edition Points of the verso of the title page corresponds to what I have… except for the seal.  So from this information I am not clear as to whether this is a first or not. This problematic issue is… well… a problem.  There are those unscrupulous booksellers out there who would happily sell this book as a first edition with all the fire works and pricing that go with this sort of transaction.  Personally, I really don’t like to advertise an item as a first, if I can’t confirm it, even if I think it is a first.  Still, it’s a nice book, a little worn, but sits nicely on the shelf… maybe my shelf.  The question if it doesn’t sell, is whether to have or have not?


  1. Just picked up a 1940 copy of this novel, although from your info it seems to be part of the 2nd edition of publishing.

  2. Hi there,
    To be honest. I'd have a look around on the www to check it out properly. My blog entry was intended to convey how vague the information on line and in the book actually is. Still a nice find though. My copy is now sitting nicely on my shelf no longer for sale... well at least not at the moment.
    All the best