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MARX, Karl.

Das Kapital.

Kritik der politischen Oekonomie. Erster [ - Dritter] Band.

Hamburg: Otto Meissner, 1867 Stock Code: 134105
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Advance review copy of the first volume, in the original printed wrappers

First edition, advance review copy of the first volume of Das Kapital (stamped "Recensionsexemplar" on the front wrapper), with a printed slip issued by the publisher Otto Meissner, completed in manuscript two days after publication, inviting the editors of Die Grenzboten to publish a review. It is offered here with first editions of volumes 2 and 3, each preserving the original wrappers, volume 2 additionally an advance review copy: thus comprising a complete set of Marx's polemical masterpiece of political economy.

Published in Leipzig, Die Grenzboten: Zeitschrift für Politik und Literatur was one of the most influential German periodicals, the organ of the National Liberal Party. The editor Max Jordan (1837-1906), now best remembered as an art historian, had taken over publication of the Grenzboten together with Gustav Freytag in 1861. He remained in the position until 1871. Jordan forwarded both slip and book to Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm Böttcher (1842-1922), a well-known journalist of national-liberal sympathies, adding his personal manuscript note to the verso of Meissner's slip. It appears, however, that Böttcher did not review it.

Meissner's printed form, laid into this copy with some ink offsetting inside the front wrapper, is completed by hand in ink, with a note on the blank verso: "Durch Firmen Herbig in Leipzig, An die verehrliche Redaction der Grenzboten in Leipzig, Beifolgend beehre ich mich, Ihnen unten verzeichnetes Werk zur gefälligen Besprechung gratis zu übersenden, mit dem Ersuchen, mir die betreffende Recension baldigst zugehen lassen zu wollen. Hamburg, 16/9/67, Hochachtungsvoll, Otto Meissner. 1. Marx, Das Kapital 1. Band." Jordan has forwarded this to Böttcher, with his added note: "Wollen Sie, geehrter Herr Dr., den Grenzboten eine Anzeige des Buches widmen? Mit bestem Gruß, Jordan".

This is only the second copy of the first volume in original wrappers that we have seen in over 35 years, the other being in a private collection. There is also a copy at the Otaru University of Commerce in Japan. Rare Book Hub lists 25 copies, all in bindings. Although volumes 2 and 3 preserving the wrappers do not approach the legendary rarity of the first volume in wrappers, it is still most unusual to find such copies, and the three volumes here present very nicely as a set.

Das Kapital has been hailed as one of "the most influential pieces of writing in world history" (International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam). "Marx himself modestly described Das Kapital as a continuation of his Zur Kritik de politischen Oekonomie, 1859. It was in fact the summation of his quarter of a century's economic studies, mostly in the Reading Room of the British Museum. The Athenaeum reviewer of the first English translation (1887) later wrote: 'Under the guise of a critical analysis of capital, Karl Marx's work is principally a polemic against capitalists and the capitalist mode of production, and it is this polemical tone which is its chief charm'. The historical-polemical passages, with their formidable documentation from British official sources, have remained memorable; and, as Marx (a chronic furunculosis victim) wrote to Engels while the volume was still in the press, 'I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles all the rest of their lives' "

"The history of the twentieth century is Marx's legacy. Stalin, Mao, Che, Castro - the icons and monsters of the modern age have all presented themselves as his heirs. Whether he would recognise them as such is quite another matter Nevertheless, within one hundred years of his death half the world's population was ruled by governments that professed Marxism to be their guiding faith. His ideas have transformed the study of economics, history, geography, sociology and literature. Not since Jesus Christ has an obscure pauper inspired such global devotion - or been so calamitously misinterpreted" (Francis Wheen, in his introduction to Karl Marx, 1999).

The first volume was the only one published during Marx's lifetime; the second and third, published in 1885 and 1894 respectively, were seen through the press by Engels. The first edition numbered 1,000 copies.

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Volume 1: octavo. Original printed yellow wrappers, spine and front wrapper lettered in black, front wrapper stamped "Recensionsexemplar", printed slip loosely inserted. Housed in a custom maroon cloth flat-back box. Volumes 2 and 3: octavo (212 x 135 and 218 x 144 mm), preserving the original printed yellow wrappers laid onto contemporary boards, since rebacked with black cloth; the third volume, in the original two parts, with the majority of the original spines laid down.


Front wrapper stamped "Recensionsexemplar". Printed slip loosely inserted.


Volume 1: front wrapper chipped and soiled, with old tape repairs lifted, now restored with archival tissue, most of the original printed spine preserved under archival tissue, the rear printed wrapper missing, upper outer corner of title repaired, the final text leaf with old tape repairs removed and restored. Internally a good, clean, uncut copy, corners a little dog-eared, some chipped away, with minimal spotting and edge toning; a remarkable survival. Volumes 2 and 3: comparable to the first, the boards somewhat soiled and rubbed, the third volume parts relined with the titles and final pages browned.


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