London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1898. First edition, Home Issue, Colonial Library binding. Hardcover. This is one of four known surviving copies of this extravagantly rare Colonial Library binding of first edition sheets of The Story of the Malakand Field Force.
Churchill's first book was issued in two distinctively different “cased” (hardcover) forms. The Home Issue first edition, only printing, is known to collectors in the familiar green cloth with contents printed on thick, white wove paper. Colonial editions were issued with strikingly illustrated front covers. There were no fewer than ten different editions, printings, and binding variations for the small number of Colonial issues ultimately produced from 1898 to 1901. Colonial editions were purposely made thinner and smaller “making them more economical to ship to far-off places than the larger domestic copies.” Hence *nearly* all of the numerous Colonial editions and issues were printed on much thinner paper, the early issues on white laid paper (rather than the thicker wove paper of the Home Issue).
All except 46 copies. These 46 are actually Home Issue sheets – hence true first editions – but bound by the publisher in the strikingly illustrated Colonial cloth rather than the green cloth.
According to Churchill’s Bibliographer Ronald Cohen, "On 13 December 1898, Longmans Green apparently had a small surplus of domestically destined sheets and an urgent need for colonial copies. So the publisher assigned forty-six sets of the domestic sheets to the Colonial Library." (See Cohen A1.2.f.) "They were bound in cases identical to those of the standard Colonial Library issue, but they are 30 percent thicker in order to accommodate the thicker domestic sheets. The paper is of course the white wove paper of the domestic sheets but the page size has been trimmed from 191 x 127 mm to 183 x 121 mm. It was of course necessary to provide these copies with a new title page, since the books were intended for sale in the Colonies, and the new title page was printed on wove paper to match the domestic sheets… the middle initial "L." was dropped from the author's name (although it remained on the front cover of the volume)." (Finest Hour, Number 141, Winter 2008-09)
Our recent discovery of this copy makes just three complete and privately-owned copies known (a fourth resides in the New Zealand National Library, missing a map). Notably, these four known survivors are fewer in number than known surviving copies of either Mr. Brodrick’s Army or For Free Trade.
Condition of this copy approaches very good, sound and complete with pardonable and only superficial cosmetic detractions. The binding is tight and square with a nicely rounded spine. The illustrated front cover is quite well preserved, with only slight scuffing and soiling. Shelf presentation is quite respectable for a Colonial edition, the color unfaded and the gilt print still bright and clearly legible despite slight mottling, a scuff to the “WINSTON L. | SPENCER”, and wrinkling at the spine ends. Thankfully, significant aesthetic detractions are confined to the undecorated rear board, which shows a large, dark stain, a thin, vertical red stain adjacent to the spine, and general overall soiling and staining. The contents are tight and, surprising for any Colonial issue, bright with an almost crisp feel. Frontispiece, tissue guard, and all maps are present, with no maps improperly folded. Spotting is moderate, primarily confined to the first and final leaves and the page edges.
The errata slip found in later states of the Home Issue was available from 19 April 1898. The 46 sets of Home Issue sheets were transferred to the Colonial Library on 13 October 1898. Consonant with these dates, this copy includes the 13-item domestic errata slip.
Of note, each of the three previously known copies has New Zealand provenance. The sole previous ownership mark in this copy is consistent. “Percival. A. Mudd | N.Z. 19.3.99.” is inked on the half title.
Bibliographic reference: Cohen A1.2.f. Item #006854