Have you ever really wanted a rare book for your collection but the price is too high? Why not go for a facsimile edition? A facsimile edition is when a publisher recreates, with perfect detail, a particular publication. These editions are usually published in limited quantity and can be a fantastic option for collectors who wish to own memorable and beautiful books but cannot stretch to the original edition.
For example, James Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the most sought after modern firsts on the planet. Even a well worn first edition from 1922 costs around $20,000. It is for this kind of book that the facsimile edition was created, allowing collectors of moderate means to experience the classics as they were originally intended.
Not all collectors think positively of facsimile editions; some feel that if one cannot find or afford the true edition one should go without. But no matter what your stance is on these reproductions, it’s always prudent to be aware of their existence.
A Selection of Facsimile Editions
The Book of Kells
Swiss publisher Urs Vraf-Verlag’s facsimile with 48 color and 652 monochrome reproductions from 1950.
by Ansel Adams
New York Graphic Society 1977 facsimile edition based on the 1930 Grabhorn Press edition.
North American Indian Portfolio
by George Catlin
Swallow Press’ 1970 facsimile edition based on the 1844 publication.
by John Milton
Arion Press 2002/2004 facsimile based on the second Baskerville edition of 1759 and including facsimiles of watercolor drawings by William Blake.
by Ian Fleming
Complete 14-volume set of facsimile first editions published by the First Edition Library in 1990.
by James Joyce
The Folio Society’s 2004 facsimile reproduction of the 1926 second edition.
The Boobus and the Bunnyduck
by Michael McClure and Jess Collins
Arion Press’ 2007 facsimile based on the first book made by visual artist Jess Colllins in 1957 in San Francisco.
The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle
by Charles Darwin
Club Internacional del Libro 1994 commemorative facsimile edition
by Anna Sewell
David Paradine’s 1977 facsimile to commemorate a century since the book’s first publication by Jarrold & Sons.
Classics of Science Library in 13 volumes
Gryphon’s 1995-1997 facsimile of early editions of various landmark scientific works including Origin of Species.
by Henri Matisse
George Braziller’s 1983 facsimile of the 1947 limited edition.
1611 King James Great He Bible
400th anniversary limited facsimile edition published in 2008.
by Allen Ginsberg
Harper & Row’s 1986 original draft facsimile produced for the 30th anniversary of the poem.
Christmas Carol And The Ten Original Parts Of Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens
1977 Yushodo Booksellers’ facsimile is based on the 1843 Chapman Hall edition and Oliver Twist is based on the 1846 Bradbury & Evans edition in 10 parts.
A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World Performed in his Majesty’s Ships The Resolution and Adventure, in the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775
The Libraries Board of South Australia’s 1970 facsimile reprint of the 1777 original (also in two volumes).
by George Orwell
Facsimile edition replicating the manuscript of Orwell’s opus including numerous comments, marginalia and corrections. Published in 1984 by Secker & Warburg.
by Benjamin Graham
Facsimile edition of the famous 1934 edition.
Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor
by Mervyn Peake
A 1999 hardcover facsimile of the 1939 first Country Life edition, the reprint was limited to 126 copies.
by Rex Stout
This 1996 edition from the First Editions Library is an exact facsimile of the original 1934 first edition published by Farrar and Rinehart.
A Dictionary of the English Language
by Samuel Johnson
Arno Press’ 1979 facsimile reproduces Johnson’s groundbreaking dictionary first published in 1755.
by Joseph Conrad
A collection of 20 volumes printed in 1980 by the Johnson Reprint Corporation designed as a facsimile of the 1921 William Heinemann book.
The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett
This facsimile of the original 1930 first edition was printed in 1993 by Otto Penzler Books and includes a reproduction of the original interior pages as well as the binding.
The Roman Hat Mystery
by Ellery Queen
First Editions Library facsimile reprinting of the 1929 Stokes edition.
The ABC Murders
by Agatha Christie
A 2006 facsimile reproduction of the 1936 UK first edition right down to the red boards being stamped in period style and the inclusion of the 7/6 price on the dust cover.
Pebble in the Sky
by Isaac Asimov
This limited edition facsimile by Doubleday in 1990 was designed to imitate the original first edition published 40 years prior.