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The Second World War:
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CHURCHILL, Winston S.

The Second World War:

Published: Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1948-53

Stock code: 81776

Price: £1,750

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

A bibliographically fascinating, and historically highly appealing set. The publishers themselves described the publication of this set as a “bibliographical nightmare”, and Cohen declines to “magnify the nightmare” by attempting to enumerate all of the Houghton, Mifflin and Book-of-the-Month Club variants. The present set is bound throughout in strong brick-red cloth without the BOMC “dot” on the lower boards, top edges all stained yellow, bands head and tail of the spine, but has no dates on the title pages, however all of the jackets are priced at the original price of $6.00. Slipcased sets with later printing $6.50 prices on the jacket flaps do occasionally emerge, but the price was “quickly raised” (Langworth p260) and this is set – with a mailing date in 1956 – is extremely unusual. Without being dragged into the “quagmire” (Cohen) of the precedence of these variant issues it is worth noting that volume I is similar to Cohen’s A240.1(1).d, the title page being a cancel without date, with the Cooperation Publishing Company, Inc. reference remaining, but was printed by the Kingsport Press; and volume IV retains the mention of Harriman at p226. Bibliographic complexities aside, what makes this set so particularly appealing is the presence of not only the publisher’s wooden slipcase, but also the original shipping box. The box clearly belongs to this set, exactly fitting the wood case and printed prominently on the sides “ONE SET CHURCHILL SIX VOLUMES” and on the bottom “6-VOL. CHURCH.” The original postage strips show a still visible date stamp of “May 3 1956”, and the original shipping label specifies both Houghton Mifflin Company and The Riverside Press and references the original invoice number. The set was destined for the Powers Dry Goods Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the one of the city’s largest department stores.

6 volumes, octavo. Original red cloth, titles gilt to spines on a black ground, facsimile signature gilt to the upper boards, yellow top-stain. With the dust jackets. Here in the original split wood slip-case and corrugated card mailing box with the publisher’s shipping label, and franking stamps. The cloth is clean and tight throughout, corners unbumped, and bright spine gilt; top-stain unsunned, with volume I showing just a few small spots to the top-stain and a hint of cockling to the spine cloth. The jackets are overall very good, having just suffered a little from being taken in and out of the snugly fitting slipcase without the benefit of any form of protection; all show some light wear and occasional chipping at the spine ends and some overall scuffing to the title panels of several volumes, overall just mild edge-wear and occasional fractional chipping, with the exception of volume IV, which has a 45 33 mm piece missing from the upper panel. The dust jacket spines of this edition proved exceptionally susceptible to fading – particularly volumes I, II, III, and V – here all the spines are all notably bright – due to the protection of the shipping box. Some light browning to the endpapers, as often, but overall this can be described as a very good set in slightly rubbed and chipped dust jackets.

Bibliography: See: Cohen A240.1 and following; Langworth pp258-63; ICS A123(aa)

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