Les Mystères de Paris; [The Mysteries of Paris]
Brussels: Ch. Hen/Alph. Lebégue, 1842-1843. First Edition. Hardcover. 16 vols. in 5 (15 numbered vols. plus an unnumbered, one vol. epilogue). Hen published vols. I–III, and Lebégue published vols. IV–XVI), all as issued. 1st edition (in French) with the vital 1842–1843 dates and 68.8% of it published in 1843, parallel with the edition from Hauman. Full, red, striped cloth (hard to date). former owner’s name (Emma Louise Brown) in each volume, a very good set, complete with half–titles. Very good. Item #831
The original serialization of Les Mystères de Paris’ was in a newspaper, Journal des Débats, from Jun. 19, 1842, to Oct. 15, 1843. The first 3 Brussels book editions (from Hen/Lebègue, Hauman, and Jamar) and the first Paris book edition (from Gosselin, with its many fake title pages alleging numerous reprintings) were all copied (typeset) from the journal’s installments starting in 1842 and then published in multiple volumes, one at a time, as soon as enough journal issues had been released with adequate text to make up a small volume’s obligatory number of pages, and they are the only 4 editions with the critical 1842–1843 title page dates (reprints by those 4 publishers and all other editions by other publishers either start after 1842 or end after 1843). With competing book editions, of sequentially issued novels, from serialized periodicals, over 2 calendar years, and lacking convincing publisher’s records, the means of identifying which of the publishers (in this case 4) issued their last volume first (completing publication, and defining the 1st edition), is to lay priority on the edition with the smallest percentage of it issued in the 2nd year (in this case 1843). Here are the numbers: Ch. Hen/Alph. Lebègue, 68.8%, Société belge de librairie Hauman, 69.2%, Gosselin 80%, and Jamar, 81.2%. So, the Hen/Lebègue and the Hauman editions (what we offer on the next page) surely precede those from Gosselin and Jamar, but the Hen/Lebègue and Hauman editions are so close in percentages as to not establish (order) priority between them with certainty. What is certain is that if one of the 2 could secure priority as the real 1st edition, it would be much more expensive, but the arguments we have heard posed on both sides are fallacious. All 4 of the correctly dated 1842–1843 editions are scarcer than an end of the world prediction that anyone sane takes seriously. ABPC lists no auction sales, of any of the 4, since 1975 and OCLC is unclear on which Hen/Lebègue or Hauman editions libraries have, because both publishers reprinted many similar looking and closely dated editions. Of course, they can’t possibly be that rare, but they are scarce enough, and the main reason for that is because a slightly later (1843 throughout), fully illustrated, and now ridiculously common, Gosselin, Paris, 4 vol. edition followed quickly, and because it was illustrated, it was the one readers bought and it is plentiful today, while the first 4 editions are not.