The First British Edition of Common Sense, with Additions
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Pamphlet. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, on the Following Interesting Subjects...A New Edition, with Several Additions in the Body of the Work. To Which is Added an Appendix; Together With an Address to the People Called Quakers. First edition, third issue, London: J. Almon, 1776. 54 pp.
Paine’s Common Sense first appeared on January 9, 1776 and was printed by R. Bell in Philadelphia. Its message, asking controversial questions such as why an island should rule over a continent, made it an immediate success, and America’s first bestseller. Paine’s work was reprinted numerous times, on both sides of the Atlantic. It is almost unnecessary to comment on the importance of Common Sense. Paine’s rhetoric flamed Americans, calling for independence in clear language that swept the country. “It is not too much to say that the Declaration of Independence,” asserted New York’s Grolier Club, “was due more to Paine’s Common Sense than to any other single piece of writing.”
This is the first British edition, third issue, of Paine’s monumentally important pamphlet. It was of such general interest that this London edition was issued before the Declaration of Independence, with notices of it appearing in periodicals in June 1776. Issued with Plain Truth..., Gimbel identifies four separate issues of this first London printing: the first contains blank spaces where offending passages (hiatuses) were left out; the second has the blanks completed in manuscript; the third issued by itself with the blank spaces; and the fourth state by itself with the blanks completed in manuscript. The present copy conforms to the third description. The hiatuses replaced words in Paine's original text that cast aspersions on the British crown and government. Usually the blank spaces simply replace words, but sometimes they remove entire phrases or sentences. In the present copy those hiatuses remain blank.
GIMBEL CS-26. HOWES P17. SABIN 58214. AMERICAN CONTROVERSY 76-107c. AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE 222y. GROLIER AMERICAN 100, 14.
Bound to style in antique calf and marbled boards, leather label. Slight wear and to edge of titlepage, slight marginal loss to last leaf, not affecting text. Minor soiling and foxing. Very good.