[Milton-L] PL: the gap between the early editions

Thomas Corns t.n.corns at bangor.ac.uk
Sun Apr 16 12:31:21 EDT 2017

Carl poses an interesting question, which can be pushed a little further with the evidence of the receipt signed on 26 April 1669 for the five pounds owing to him on the sale of 1300 copies of the first edition.

My conjecture is that the receipt marked the sale in multiple batches to a number of London booksellers. The last two batches, to Thomas Helder, are date 1669, and it would have probably been unwise and perhaps unethical for Samuel Simmons to have printed more copies till Helder had had opportunity to sell the stock he had taken on. His shop was quite close to Simmons’s shop, which might have been a factor. I assume Helder was finding it quite hard to move his copies in a market which had had access to the publication since 1667.

I think the sale-or-return deal isn’t part of the booktrade till the nineteenth century, though would be very interested if that’s not the case.

Tom Corns

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