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MARX, Karl.

Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie.

Erster Band.

Hamburg: Otto Meissner, 1867 Stock Code: 116802
£500,000.00
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First edition, inscribed to César De Paepe, the leader of the International Workingmen's Association in Belgium

First edition, presentation copy, inscribed not quite a year after publication on the verso of the title, "Au citoyen César de Paepe, salut fraternel, Karl Marx, Londres 3 Septembre 1868", and with one small pencil correction to the text, also presumably by Marx. The Belgian César De Paepe (18411890) was the leader of the International Working Men's Association (IWMA), the First International, in Belgium. De Paepe is considered, with Mikhail Bakunin, the co-founder of collectivist anarchism, the theory of which they formulated independently of each other in 1866. While De Paepe was an early disciple of Proudhon, he often gravitated toward Marx's positions and was counted second only to Marx as a theoretician of the IWMA. In 1885 he was among the founders of the Belgian Socialist Party, though his attempts to reconcile anarchists and Marxists ultimately isolated him within the Socialist movement. Long a champion of universal suffrage in Belgium, he died of consumption, aged 48, only three years before universal suffrage was introduced there.

On 3 September 1868 Marx had a pressing reason to remind De Paepe of his friendship. Three days later, on 6 September, the Brussels Congress of the First International was to begin, at which the conflict with the French Proudhonists would come to a head. Marx did not attend, but hoped to pull strings from London. De Paepe was the principal leader of the Collectivist faction Marx himself favoured. Marx managed to sideline Proudhon's theory and induce delegates to accept several contentious resolutions confirming the advantages of collective, socialist ownership of land and of the means of production. Extracts from the machinery chapter of Das Kapital were read at the Congress (it is not too far-fetched to imagine it may have been from this very volume), and these quotations provided the theoretical basis for the resolution condemning the extortionist use of machinery by the capitalist class. Notably, the General Council also passed a resolution recommending that working men in all countries study Marx's Kapital.

Very few presentation copies of the first edition of Das Kapital are known to have survived. Most of these were inscribed by Marx on 18 September 1867 in London, when the first batch, published four days previously, arrived from Hamburg. One is the copy held by Trinity College Cambridge (to the Deutscher Arbeiter-Bildungsverein); another, inscribed to Professor Edward Spencer Beesly, sold at Bloomsbury Auctions, 27 May 2010, lot 606; a third was presented to his cousin August Philips (sold at Hartung & Karl, 16 May 1979, lot 1544); and another was inscribed to the secretary general of the First International, Johann Georg Eccarius. A copy inscribed to the English socialist reformer John Malcolm Ludlow on the title page ("on the part of the author") was purchased by the Harry Ransom Center at Sotheby's on 23 June 1969, while Down House owns one inscribed to Charles Darwin. In this copy a correction, presumably marked by Marx himself and also appearing in the Beesly copy, is on page XII of the Preface, where "transatlantischen Oceans" has "trans" crossed through. In the inscription here Marx first wrote "avec les compliments de Karl Marx" before apparently thinking better of such a bland inscription and erasing the just-penned words. As the iron gall ink had not yet settled and oxidized, the erased area must have appeared much fainter at the time of re-inscribing, when Marx wrote across the slightly smudged area (which has since darkened) his more cordial "brotherly greeting".

Hailed as one of "the most influential pieces of writing in world history" (International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam), Das Kapital was the culmination of Marx's many years' work in the British Museum. This first volume was the only one published during Marx's lifetime, the later volumes, edited by Engels from the author's manuscript, appearing in 1885 and 1894. Marx's own annotated copy, along with the only surviving handwritten page of the Communist Manifesto, was entered on the prestigious UNESCO "Memory of the World Register" in 2013.

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Description

Octavo. Contemporary half calf with gilt-stamped spine title and marbled covers. Housed in a red quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.

Condition

Light toning throughout, with the odd brown stain near the beginning, a tiny tear to the top edge of p. 353, but generally very well-preserved.

Bibliography

Die Erstdrucke der Werke von Marx und Engels, p. 32; Printing and the Mind of Man 359; Rubel 633.

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