Census of Known Copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Edition for the Million

This is a draft post. I’m not concerned with the financial value of these copies, unless I’m trying to buy one. They are interesting to me for their publication history. But if monetary value is your interest, see the note to booksellers and collectors at end of post.

I am preparing a census of known copies of the Edition for the Million! (1852/1853) version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Below is an in-progress snap-shot of the search, which lists those copies of which I am currently aware. No system of ordering or arranging the copies is yet settled upon, though the post concludes with a reflection on what such a system would require, if built as a database.

Personal Copy I
Title page slug has 193,000 copies sold. Printed title paper present. Rear end papers are missing. Spine absent. Text block fair to good. Untrimmed.

Personal Copy II
Title page slug has 153,000 copies, 306,000 volumes. Paper wrappers, both title and end papers, are missing. Spine absent. Text block fair to poor. Trimmed very close, sometimes edging text block.

Personal Copy III
Title page slug has 183,000 copies. Paper wrappers present. Spine absent. Text block good. Trimmed but with wide margin. Some pencil markings.

University of Miami, Ohio, Special Collections
Reported in online catalog. OCLC No. 1107483. 153,000 COPIES, Rebound, paper cover missing, advertisements present. Free endpapers. Prominent waterstain from front wrapper to page nineteen. Many discolored pages, including four leaf pressings.

University of Miami, Ohio
Bound with Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Institutional copy not held by Special Collections. No LOC record.

University of Chicago Library, Lincoln Collection
Reported in online catalog. No number statement. (OCLC 26297218, Call No. PS2954.U5 1853)

SUNY Morrisville
Three hundred and fifth thousand. Bound with A Key. (OCLC 1107483)

Stowe-Day Foundation Library
810.016 S892, bound with Key. No number statement. (OCLC 03796420)
Rare Books 810 S892, (1852), 163,000 copies — 326,000 volumes. (OCLC 29289660)
Rare Books 810 S892, (1852), 153,000 copies — 306,000 volumes. (OCLC 17762356)
Rare Books 810 S892, (1852) “203,000 copies already published in America. / Two hundred and thirty-third thousand.” (OCLC 29289787)
Rare Books 810 S892, (1852) “223,000 copies already published in America. / Two hundred and thirteenth thousand.” (OCLC 29289700)
3 Copies, no number statement in catalog (OCLC 26297218)

Hartford – Connecticut Historical Society Library
1 Copy, no number statement in catalog (OCLC 26297218)

Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
Reported in online catalog. Bound with A Key, Boston, 1853. (OCLC 79203208)

Kenyon College
Reported on OCLC, 1107483. But copy does not appear in online catalog. Query made to librarians in January. No response.

Seton Hill University, Reeves
Reported in online catalog. Bound with A Key, Boston, 1853. Two hundred and thirteenth thousand. (OCLC 1107483)

Georgetown University, Lauinger.
Reported in online catalog. Bound with A Key, Boston, 1853. No number statement. (OCLC 26297218)

University of Iowa
Reported in online catalog. Bound with A Key, Boston, 1853. No number statement. (Listed in OCLC 26297218, but link to WorldCat broken. See System Number 000598815)

University of Virginia, Small Special Collections
Reported in online catalog. 245th Thousand, 1853. Publisher’s advertisements. (OCLC 1107483)

Reported under same OCLC Number 1107483
Chicago History Museum
Hamilton College Library
Lawrence University
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
Trinity College
Western Illinois University
Missouri History Museum
Brown University
Wellesley College
Brandeis University Library
Atlantic School of Theology
Miami-Dade Public Library System
University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center
California State University, Long Beach

Note: It is unlikely that all would be marked 245th thousand. Not mis-cataloged, exactly, but further investigation is needed of each individual copy.

OCLC No. 9158851
Case Western Reserve (2 copies)

OCLC No. 32937105
Wittenberg University (bound with Key, two hundred seventy-fifth thousand)

OCLC No. 1107483
State Library of Ohio (Bound with Key, Three hundred and fifth thousand)

University of Miami, Ohio, Special Collections
OCLC No. 3796420 (Bound with Key, no number statement)

Notice the variety of OCLC WorldCat numbers for bindings and number sold statements on this “edition”:

Search So Far

The search is based primarily on OCLC WorldCat. I have also consulted Parfait, for which notes below.

Claire Parfait in The Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852–2002 (2007) reports the following printing slugs on title pages, some based on Margaret Hildreth in Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Bibliography (1975), designated MH: 153,000, 163,000 (MH), 173,000, 193,000, 203,000 (MH), 213,000, 223,000, 230,000 (MH), 233,000, 245,000 (NUC). According to Parfait, cover and title pages after 213,000 bear different imprint dates (1852 or 1853). After 295,000, volumes bear date 1853.

I am cautious about Parfait’s results. Parfait appears to base some work on personal examination, but her statement on sources does not distinguish those slugs based on personal examination and those based on catalogs. Also, the work relies in part on the National Union Catalog, which has been superseded by WorldCat. I also hesitate to trust Hildreth’s biography.

For the original census, I believe that the most thorough system is the arrangement by OCLC catalog number. However, such a system will not serve for what I need to do, to examine multiple printings. In choosing those, I need to be certain of what the title page slug says about the number printed. Librarians may not necessarily group same printing slug under same catalog number, so this temporary system will need to be revised. I believe that this will require something closer to a database record. And these will be the fields:

Print Date (1852, 1853, or other?)
No Printed Slug
Number of Pages
Cover Present
Bound with Key
Ad Pages
Bibliographic State (1, 2, 3, etc., if applicable)
Institutional Location
Available for ILL
OCLC Catalog No.
Damage Level (Bookseller Categories, supplemented by text field?)

Note to Booksellers and Collectors: If you have a copy of the John P. Jewett’s paperback printing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin dated 1852 or 1853, booksellers often sell it as an “affordable alternative” to the two-volume edition. This work is preliminary, but it seems clear that libraries hold 40-plus copies of the paperback printing. Affordable is relative, as prices at present moment (early 2009) range from $40 or $50 to upwards of $300, depending on condition. Booksellers seem not to distinguish between early and late printings in assigning values. But if you’d like to, my belief is that the title slug 153,000 probably represent the early printings of paperback. I’m curious about paperback printings later than 245th thousand, and I’d welcome queries about privately held copies.

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21 Responses to Census of Known Copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Edition for the Million

  1. Bob Deming says:

    I have a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Key and the title page indicates Three Hundred and Fifth Thousand. The spine has a tear, but overall the condition is very good in my opinion. How do I determine a value for this edition?

    • wraabe says:

      Mr. Deming,

      I am a scholar, and I am interested in books for the purpose of research. Perhaps the most reasonable course is to contact an antiquarian bookseller. The ABAA offers links and a guide on seeking appraisals.


      That said, in my experience copies of the one-volume edition typically range from $15.00 (at auction sites by inexperienced seller) to $100.00. Sellers of the Key distinguish between printing states (book was corrected). Blanck and Winship’s Bibliography of American Literature offers guidance on that identification. A two-volume (UTC and Key) is somewhat less common, but the books were designed to be sold together. Perhaps a motivated buyer–convinced that the item was unique—would pay more. Out-of-the-blue guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 to $200.

      The market for editions of UTC pays relatively little attention to the paperback copy. My personal conviction is that the value of paperback (and two-volume paperback and key) has a pretty hard ceiling. Unfortunately for collectors interested in value, the paperback was sold in the tens of thousands of copies (perhaps 150,000). If the price rises, more copies (including 2-volume UTC and Key) will appear on the market. It is likely that several hundred copies languish in attics and such.

      I fancy that my scholarship has the potential to increase interest in the paperback (because Stowe revised it), but scholarship filters into the book market at a very slow pace.

      Good luck,

      Wesley Raabe wraabe@kent.edu Kent State University

  2. elaine haas says:

    i have a copy of this which i bought on ebay for $15.50. it is missing the front and back cover. the quantity listed on the title page is two hundred and eighty fifth thousand. since i bought this copy on july 1,2008 i have seen two copies sold with the cover but slightly chewed up. one was selling for $49.99 starting bid in july 2011. another just recently sold for $47.00 on november 13,2011. i can give you the ebay id if you want to research it further. elaine haas

    • wraabe says:

      Ms. Haas,

      Thank you for your note. As a long-time watcher on eBay for copies, I have a pretty good idea what is happening in the market for these copies. But I would appreciate copies of the eBay IDs.

      I do wonder how much I wish to pursue copies in private hands. The estimate of copies sold certainly runs in the 10s of 1000s and may exceed 130,000, so I expect that several hundred copies would remain in private hands even today.

      I have recently published an article about Stowe’s revisions, which are not known to scholars. One of the most interesting is in the Million edition. See page 96. I discuss it briefly in a blog post as well.


      Thank you for the comment,

      Wesley Raabe
      Kent State University

  3. Kim Silva says:

    I have a copy of a key to uncle Toms cabin dated 1853 published by John P. Jewett & co Cleveland Ohio Jewett, proctor & worthington. london:low and company. it is a hard back copy in fair condition for such an old book. is it a rare book ? what is its value ?

    • Wesley Raabe says:

      I am not an appraiser. But copies are typically priced in the $50 to $150 range on eBay and 20 or 30 percent higher by booksellers based on condition and arguments about the printing state. But no, not particularly rare. If you are using “fair” as a technical term from the book trade, it is probably at the lower end of scale above unless it has some other point in is favor like special binding, first printing points, or known provenance. The financial value of a book is ultimately the price at which a seller and buyer agree to exchange money for book.

  4. nancy riggs says:

    i have a hard copy of uncle tom’s cabin or life among the lowly vol. II in very good condition- no rips or tears. it is also published in 1853, but noted as two hundred and sixty-third thousand. boston, john p. jewett and co. cleveland, ohio. jewett, proctor & worthington.
    This seems to indicate a higher number circulated…any comments?

  5. James Bond says:

    I have what I believe is a first edition of Vol. 1. Listed as seventieth thousand. I don’t care about the value, just wanted to add to your survey.

    • wraabe says:

      Dear 007,
      If your edition is labeled “vol. 1” and 70th thousand, it’s not the Million edition, for two reasons. 1st reason: The Million edition was a 1-volume edition. The first edition was in two volumes and so labeled volume 1 and volume 2. 2nd reason: The earliest (known) title page number on the Million edition says 153,000 copies. Therefore, your copy is volume 1 of Jewett first edition. As your copy is a Jewett 1st, it does not belong on my list of Jewett Million editions. Sorry to be so persnickety.

      I’m not saying that a catalog of known copies of 1st editions would not be valuable. The problem is that there’s too dog-gone many of them still extant and in circulation, as any browse on ebay will show. They have been valued and preserved by collectors and so often deposited in libraries. The Million is different because it’s a cheap edition for poor people. Therefore, far fewer have been preserved. From the standpoint of rarity, the Million editions are rare. Though many were printed, fewer have been deposited in libraries. However, I suspect number extant is pretty elastic. If they start selling for $1200 per copy on ebay because some auction house reports that I said only around 50 are extant, people will start rummaging through attics. And they’ll start showing up. Over last decade I’ve bought copies from ebay at prices between $25 and $100.

  6. Marguerite turner says:

    I just found a copy of uncle toms cabin, single edition but there is no copyright date, it’s red hardcover with Uncle Tom and a little white girl sitting on a dock publisher is hm Caldwell

  7. Bil Hayden says:

    I have a copy, softcover, with no printing at all. First page says UNCLE TOM’S CABIN or LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY by HARRIET BEECHER STOWE . Same page – PREFACE etc. That’s it-no date or anything. Has some illustrations, binder in tough shape. I’m curious if this is one of the million copies- Thank you

  8. Sherry says:

    I have a copy of Uncle Toms Cabin cloth bound copy with a white girl in a cameo with red flowers on cover. Just says Stowe. No copywrite. Just preface and story. Very old. What do you know about this? The young lady in the cameo has her fingers to her chin and a large bow to her hair and a white low cut dress on.

    • wraabe says:

      What do I know? Not much, but I have a few guesses. As for what I know, it’s NOT a Million edition. On to guesses: With color printing on cover, probably early 20th century, period during which UTC was reproduced in vast numbers, by multiple publishers, often with no date. You might check Claire Parfait’s publishing history for more information. Or, you might compare style and method of illustration with others (on eBay probably easiest to see many cover photos) to ascertain approximate date.

  9. Michael Baker says:

    I recently bought An Edition For The Millions! Uncle Tom’s Cabin 270,000 Copies Already Published In America Boston: Published By John P. Jewett And Company. Cleveland, Ohio; Jewett, Proctor And Worthington. London, Sampson, Low, Son & Co. And on reverse of title page it states, Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by Harriet Beecher Stowe And at the bottom of the page it states stereotyped by Hobart & Robbins It is 166 pages, paper cover, with brown cloth tape(?) binding. All I can find about early publishing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin prior to 1852 are references to serial publications, and in 1852 is the First edition hardcover, which I also have, and a copy of this “An Edition For The Million!”, but with the date of 1852, not any with a date of 1851. The book I have in front of me is complete in one volume and dated 1851. Does this fit what you are looking for?. And any ideas of value?

    • wraabe says:

      That’s one of them, except it’s “Million” singular. In 1852 there were just beginning to fathom that books could sell in plural millions. If title page says 153,000 copies sold, it’s one of the earliest ones. See Parfait’s Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin for more of those copies printed statements. The copyright page on “Million” edition says 1851 because that was the copyright date, and it’s verbatim with copyright statement on 2-volume first edition, issued in March. Million edition appeared in December 1852. It’s announced in several contemporary newspapers and advertisements. It’s a reprint, except for altered passage on page 96, discussed here. http://scholarlyediting.org/2012/editions/utctopsy/JPB.html. Don’t overthink this. There were no phantom 1851 copies of that edition issued. Approximate value is $25 to $100 on eBay. A very nice copy with wraps might bring $150 on a well-attended auction. Very few are in libraries, except those listed. By comparison, several 100 first editions are available. As I say above, I strongly suspect the supply is elastic, and they’ll start appearing in garages and attics if price rises above $200. Over 100,000 copies were sold, so I think it’s reasonable to suspect several hundred are to be found. I have 6 copies now.

  10. Michael Baker says:

    Thank you for the information. Yes it is Million not Millions. My text fits the red text of your linked reference. Does that make it a reprint from the serialized magazine published story? I am surprised at how little you suggest it is worth. I collect and know often books aren’t what one might think just because of age certainly, but I’ve not found any reference or acknowledgement of the 1851 edition until I came across your blog. Seemed fairly rare. Thanks again.

    • wraabe says:

      I’m sorry to disappoint. I have purchased about 6 copies at online bookstores and in past 6 or 8 years, and $40 to $75 has been the going rate, with some a bit higher, but nothing astronomical. I think it “ought” to be more valuable, because it is comparatively rare, but collectors generally favor 1st editions. I can assure that it’s not a reprint from the serialized newspaper. I have transcribed and proofread newspaper, 1st edition, and Million edition. The Million is derived from the first edition, with the added passage and (I think) a few authorial corrections. Not wording as far as I can determine, but possibly some punctuation and minor spelling matters, of dialect. I’m planning eventually to publish an edition that includes an analysis. Someone used my dissertation to claim that a copy of the Era was rare, and they jacked up the price on eBay with that claim. And if I publish my edition, the value may rise briefly. But I really do think they would come crawling out of the woodwork if price rose above $200 or $300, because they printed a godawful number of copies. It’s just not comparable to something by Emerson or Hawthorne or Melville, which were printed in far fewer copies.

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