Monday, September 21, 2009

A Correction to the Copyright and Bibliographic Records of The Elements of Style


I recently acquired a copy of the 1919 edition of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. for my Elements of Style Collection. While collating the book, I was surprised to see that the printer was identified on the verso of the title page as the Press of W. F. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y.







I thought at first that it had to be a typo because the bibliographic records at the Library of Congress and elsewhere identify the Press of W. P. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y. as the printer of the 1918 and 1919 editions. Moreover, W. P. Humphrey is listed as the printer of the 1918 and 1919 editions in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries published by the Library of Congress. A quick check online, however, revealed that there was a printing firm by the name of W. F. Humphrey in business in Geneva, New York during that period.
I queried Cornell University, identified my findings, and asked them to examine their copies of the 1918 and 1919 editions. Patrick J. Stevens, Curator of the Fiske Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University, performed the examination. Here are his findings:


"I examined two copies of the 1918 and one copy of the 1919 Elements of Style immediately available to me in our Rare Books Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

"Examining first the 1919 copy, I saw that the very small typeface could easily be read as W. P. Humphrey. With my reading glasses, however, it is clear the name is W. F. Humphrey.

"As for the 1918 copies, both have what appears to be the same printerstatement on the title page verso as the 1919, but for the 1918, it isconsiderably harder to discern whether the letter in question is a P or an F. I think the impression is simply not a good, clean one and that it could therefore very well be an F. One cannot with absolutecertainty confirm it as a P. So I would, given the history, the appearanceof the typesetting and so forth, say it was an F.

"Our cataloguing records thus appear to be wrong for the 1918 and 1919 editions.


Several days later I again examined the three items mentioned above this time with a fairly strong magnifying glass. I came away even more convinced than before that we are looking at W. F., not W. P.

"The 1919 edition we have is unequivocally W. F. "In the 1918 editions, it is clear under magnification that the tops of the letters across the entire printing statement suffer from inadequate impression. Thus the F in the word "of" in the statement is identical to the F in the initial pair "W. F." (remembering that these are all small caps). One can also see more clearly the curved segment in the letter P of the word "press" connecting the upper and lower horizontal strokes. This curved segment is of course absent where the letter F is confirmed.



"I have included an image in jpeg of the title page verso of one of our 1918 copies. Using a viewer such as Windows Picture and Fax Viewer at a quite high magnification--remembering these printer's statements are extremely small on the originals--one can clearly see the defects in printing across the tops of the letters and consequently see why the F was interpreted as a P.






"The jpegs are moderately large. I have included one of the title page as wel as one of the title page verso.


"Kind regards,

"Patrick"

While Patrick was examining Cornell's copies of the 1918 and 1919 editions, I was researching the histories of the Press of W.F. Humphrey and the Press of W. P. Humphrey. If the records at Cornell were wrong, that meant the records at the Library of Congress, WorldCat, and everywhere else in the book world were wrong.


The Press of W. F. Humphrey had been in the printing business in Geneva, New York since the late 1890s. In 1896 its place of business was 30 Linden Street. In 1917, its place of business was 300 Pulteney Street. William Francis Humphrey was the proprietor of the W. F. Humphrey Press. While a student at Hobart College in Geneva, he was an editor of the Hobart College Herald. His firm later became the printer of the Herald.  His firm also printed the Cornell Law Quarterly. William Francis Humphrey was very active in the community. He was a member of the Elks, the Masons, Trinity Church, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rod and Gun Club, the Geneva Country Club, and the United Typothetae of America. He died of pneumonia in 1934.

On the other hand, the Press of W. P. Humphrey was not in the printing business in Geneva, New York. At least Karen Osburn, Archivist of the Geneva Historical Society, could find no record of its existence. Google Books erroneously lists W.P. Humphrey as the printer of numerous works; but an examination of the printer's name on the publications will show the same problems with the typeface as experienced with the 1918 edition of The Elements of Style. The only publications listed in the records of the Library of Congress in which W.P. Humphrey is identified as the printer are the 1918 and 1919 editions of The Elements of Style.

And now we know that these records need to be corrected.

Addendums:
 The Library of Congress corrected its records on Sept. 28, 2009.

Here is an image from another copy of the 1918 edition:





......

Monday, May 25, 2009

William Strunk's Other Books in My Library

William Strunk Jr. was not just the author of The Elements of Style. He was the author or editor of books on Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Poetry and several literary classics. He was one of the leading Shakespearean authorities of his time. In 1935, MGM hired him as an adviser for the movie, Romeo and Juliet, directed by George Cukor.

Topics and Questions on Shakespeare
By William Strunk Jr.
Ithaca, N.Y. 1927




The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
Edited by Arthur D. Innes
American Edition Revised by William Strunk, Jr.
Boston, 1915





Macaulay's and Carlyle's Essays on Samuel Johnson
Edited With Introduction and Notes By William Strunk, Jr.
New York, 1895





Macaulay's and Carlyle's Essays on Samuel Johnson
Edited With Introduction and Notes by William Strunk, Jr.
New York, 1896, Second Edition, Revised






English Metres
By William Strunk, Jr.
Ithaca, N.Y. 1922





The Last of the Mohicans
By James Fenimore Cooper
Edited For School Use by William Strunk, Jr.
English Classics-Star Series
Yonkers-On-Hudson, N.Y. 1913





Studies in Language and Literature
In Celebration of the Seventieth Birthday
of
James Morgan Hart
November 2, 1909
New York, 1910





William Strunk was one of the editors of this work, and contributed an article as well: The Importance of the Ghost in Hamlet.

Strunk received a few copies of the article, which was reprinted from the book. He gave a copy of the article to the author, Frederick Tupper. It is stamped "With the Compliments of" and signed "W. Strunk Jr."




There are at least three other books that Strunk either wrote or edited. I will include them as I acquire them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Elements of Style Collection






I collect multiple copies of The Elements of Style. In this blog entry, I will display my collection, and identify some of the revisions for each edition. To date, I have thirty-seven copies of The Elements of Style, and one copy of The Elements and Practice of Composition. Ten copies of The Elements of Style are collectible copies of pre-1959 editions. One of them is a copy of the 1919 edition. Four of them are reprints of the 1920 First Trade Edition. Three of them are copies of the 1934 Revised Edition. And two are copies of the circa 1940 edition, published after Strunk retired.

I am actively seeking a copy of the 1918 edition. Please contact me if you have a copy for sale. In the meantime, I will refer to the 1918 edition on Bartleby.com.

Below is an image of a copy of a 1919 edition of The Elements of Style which I recently acquired.






The Elements of Style


by William Strunk, Jr.


Ithaca, N.Y., 1919.

Press of W.F. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y.


43p.


in paper wrappers


What struck me right off was that the 1919 edition was privately printed by W. F. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y.. The 1918 edition was supposedly privately printed by W. P. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y. – at least, that's what everyone, including me, had been led to believe (See my post: A Correction to the Bibliographic and Copyright Records of Strunk's Elements of Style).



Surprisingly, there were several changes between the 1918 and 1919 editions.


In the 1918 edition, Rule 4 read:
Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause.
In the 1919 edition, Rule 4 was changed to read:
Place a comma before a conjunction introducing a co-ordinate clause.

Several words, including the word, but, were added to Section V. Words and Expressions Commonly Misused.

Several words were added to Section VI. Words Often Misspelled. The following information was added after the list of words often misspelled:
Note that a single consonant (other than v) preceded by a stressed vowel is doubled before -ed and -ing: planned, letting, occurring. (Coming is an exception.)





The Elements of Style



by William Strunk, Jr.



New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1921]
52p.





The edition pictured above is not an image of the first trade edition.  Harcourt Brace and Howe published the first trade edition in 1920.  Will D. Howe left the firm sometime in 1921, and the firm officially changed its name to Harcourt, Brace and Company.  I have four copies  of the edition printed by Harcourt, Brace and Company.  I bought my first copy in May, 2001, and have bought six copies in all (I gave two copies away as gifts). I have seen listings for another ten copies.




There were several changes in the 1920 first trade edition as well.

I. Introductory: There were minor changes to the wording in this chapter.

II. Elementary Rules of Usage: One rule, rule 8, "Divide words at line-ends in accordance with their formation and pronunciation," was eliminated in the 1920 edition.

III. Elementary Principles of Composition: One principle, "use definite, specific, concrete language," was added .

IV. A Few Matters of Form: One additional heading, "Syllabication," was added. The Syllabication chapter provided clearer methods of dividing words at the end of a sentence than Chapter II, Rule 8 of the 1918 edition.

V. Words and Expressions Commonly Misused: There were minor word changes.

The title of Chapter VI was changed from "Words Often Misspelled" to "Spelling." Several words were deleted while others were added.

A new chapter was added to the 1920 edition: VII. Exercises on Chapters I and II. It contained 25 exercises printed on three pages.


The Elements of Style, Revised Edition



by William Strunk Jr. and Edward A. Tenney



New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, c.1934



(3) 62p.






This edition is known as the Strunk & Tenney Edition of 1934, or the Revised Edition. I now have three copies of this edition. Revise it they did, revamping the entire Table of Contents:





I don't know how much input Edward A. Tenney had in this revision, but I suspect it was quite a bit. I do believe, however, that Strunk was responsible for providing a ready reference table for abbreviations and numbers used in criticism of papers graded in the Cornell course on English Usage and Style.






The 1934 edition is a totally different book than the earlier editions. In fact, when 47 practice leaves were added to the 1935 and 1936 editions, the title was changed to The Elements and Practice of Composition. I had never seen a copy of either the 1935 or 1936 edition available for sale until I spotted a copy of a 1936 edition on Amazon.com a couple of years ago. I grabbed it.




The Elements and Practice of Composition


by William Strunk Jr. and Edward A. Tenney



New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936
(iv), 60p. (47)





The 1936 edition is a softcover and is two inches longer and one and a half inches wider than the 1920 and 1934 editions.




Surprisingly, the Table of Contents of the 1936 edition was totally revised from that of the 1934 edition. I believe that Edward Tenney was responsible for the changes because Strunk was in Hollywood from July 1935 to June 1936 as the technical adviser for MGM's Romeo and Juliet, directed by George Cukor.



The Table of Abbreviations used in criticism changed somewhat as well.



The 47 practice leaves were included in the 1935 and 1936 editions. The practice leaves were in tablet form for the 1934 edition. This practice proved to be inconvenient and expensive. The practice leaves for the 1936 edition were removable, and students were instructed to tear out the assigned leaf , write the exercise in pen, and turn them in at the beginning of the class. Each leaf had two sides. My copy is lacking leafs 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 ,14, and 36.





The Elements of Style


By William Strunk, Jr.,
Professor of English, Emeritius, Cornell University



Ithaca, N.Y., The Thrift Press, c.1940


52p.



in paper wrappers





This is the first pre-1959 edition I bought, acquiring it sometime in 2000. I acquired a second copy in early 2012. The key information in determining when this edition was published is the term "Emeritus." Strunk retired in October, 1937, meaning this edition was published sometime after 1936. The format of the Strunk & Tenney edition evidently wasn't popular at Cornell because Cornell went back to using the same Table of Contents as the earlier editions.


The Elements of Style


By William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White



New York, The Macmillan Company, 1959



xiv, 71p.








This is the book that E.B. White made famous. I currently have one copy of the true first printing, the fifth printing and three copies of the book club edition. Another fifth printing is lacking the dust jacket.




Can you tell which copy is the true first printing and which copy is the book club edition? You can't by this picture.

The true first printing has a price of $2.50 printed on the inside flap of the front cover.





The book club edition does not have a price printed on the inside flap.


There is another way to tell a true first printing from a book club edition. The book club edition has an indented square stamped into the bottom right corner of the rear cover.



Here is an expanded view of the indented square.










For the 1959 edition, E.B. White used a Table of Contents similar to that of the earlier 1918 edition, while adding a chapter on writing at the end:









Folded inside one of my copies of the 1959 edition was the following article about E.B. White, written by a well-known personality:





The price for the 5th printing is printed in the bottom right hand corner of the front inside flap, whereas it was printed in the top right hand corner of the first printing.



This is a paperback copy of the 1959  edition of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.  I have a sixth printing and a ninth printing.




Two copies of the 1962 Macmillan Paperbacks Edition. One of them is the fifteenth printing (1967) of the 1959 edition, and the other is the seventeenth printing (1968). Both copies were marked $.95.






This is a paperback copy of the 1972 Second Edition of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. I currently have three copies of this edition, one of whose marked price is $1.25, and another's is $1.65. The price on the third copy was punched out. White deleted the Note on this Book and included the information in the Introduction. He kept the same Table of Contents as before, while providing additional examples of rules and updating other examples.




Immediately below are three paperback copies of the 1979 Third Edition with Index, all of which are different printings. The listed price of the eighth printing was $2.95. The listed price of the twenty-third printing was $4.95. And the listed price of the thirty-second printing was $5.95.





Here are two oversized unpriced paperback copies of the 1979 Third Edition with the Index.





Here is an oversized hardback copy of the 1979 Third Edition. Its marked price on the inside flap of the dust jacket is $11.95.



Here are two later paperback printings of the 1979 Third Edition without the Index.  As of June, 2010, I have four copies of this edition.  One of them is price parked at $1.95.  another is price marked at $2.25, and two are unmarked pricewise. The major difference between the second and third editions is that Strunk added four rules to Chapter I. Elementary Rules of Usage.





This is a later printing, in hardback, of the 1999 Fourth Edition of The Elements of Style. Roger Angell, White's stepson, edited this edition, providing a new Forward, and updating some of the examples. The marked price of this edition is $14.95.




This is a softcover copy of the Fourth Edition. I currently have four copies of this edition.



This concludes the display of My Elements of Style Collection. If you'd like to see Strunk's other books which are in my library, click here.