UNRECOGNIZED EARLY SCANDINAVIAN/AMERICAN JULES VERNE EDITION APPEARS.
Henrik Wilfred Christensen
The Danish Jules Verne Society
Newsletter no. 2. November 2006.
|“A change of identity”
In my frequent search on the Internet for Jules Verne editions to complete my collection of Danish books, add to my Scandinavian collections or just searching interesting examples, I stumbled across a somewhat intriguing description of a book set for sale by an American antiquarian bookshop “Sumner & Stillman”.
The description of the book was as follows:
“Verne, Jules. REISE TIL JORDENS CENTRUM. Chicago: Johnson, Anderson & Lawson, 1874. Bound in brown cloth with black leather spine label.
First edition in the Dutch language of JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH – published in double-column format in Chicago, with the same title page date (1874) as Scribner Armstrong´s first American edition. This edition was probably originally issued in wrappers; this copy was at some point bound in brown cloth with a leather spine label (it is ex library from a Wisconsin public library). Condition is very good (waterstain at the bottom of some leaves). Quite uncommon – in fact, to the knowledge of several major Verne collectors (as well as ourselves), this is the only known copy (though there must be another few somewhere!) of what was assuredly an extremely small printing by the little-known local publisher. See T&M V002.”
The title reminded me of a book in my collection: Jules Verne. “Reise
til Jordens Centrum”, P. F. Steensballe, Christiania 1873.
I therefore asked the bookseller for further information concerning the language of the text in the book. Mr. Rick Loomis from Sumner & Stillman willingly delivered the required information. Sending him a scan of the title page and the first page with text of the Norwegian edition he answered:
First text page of Norwegian and Chicago editions.
“This is definitely the same language, same translation, etc. The
title page of the Chicago copy is identical to yours except for the line
at the very top and, of course, the Chicago publisher imprint. The beginning
of the text is likewise identical – though not from the same printing plates,
as the Chicago volume has double-column text (and thus only 131 pages).
(He also mentioned his earlier doubt about the language and the Taves
& Michaluk reference.)
They write on page 107 of their book: “In 1874, Johnson Lawson of Chicago published a Dutch edition entitled Reise Til Jordens Centrum in a double-column format book”.
This information was used by Sumner & Stillman in their description. The former owner of the book had told, that this copy was the source used by Taves & Michaluk. Furthermore that this was the only copy known by major collectors.
I was now almost certain that this was a Jules Verne edition in a Scandinavian language and I purchased the book.
About the book
With the book in my hand I have been able to confirm that it is indeed
a Scandinavian-American edition. The language is Norwegian – almost similar
to Danish at that time.
On the top of the title page of the Chicago-edition is printed: “Følgeblad til “Skandinaven”” (which means “Supplement to “Skandinaven””). About “Skandinaven” see below.
The book is printed in 2 columns on cheap relatively thin paper – often used for newspapers.
On the last fly-leaf is stamped in red ink: “Officially discarded – Public Library – Black River Falls, Wis.”
Furthermore, there are 2 identical stamps with the text: “Permanent Loan”.
A slip of paper pasted on the last fly-leaf bears the text: 15M – Apr.
1937. This book is to be returned on the last date given below.”
Last fly-leaf of Chicago edition.
The binding is brown full-cloth without decorations. Not typical for
bindings from the 1870s.
“Skandinaven” and its editors (4,5)
“Skandinaven” was a newspaper in Norwegian for the numerous emigrants of Norwegian and Danish origin living in the Midwest.
The Jules Verne novel was a “supplement” to the newspaper readers and
may have been serialized. This can only be confirmed by studying the original
newspapers from that time.
“Skandinaven” was founded in Chicago in 1866 by three partners John
Anderson, Knud Langeland and Iver(Ivar?) Lawson(former Larsen) all of Norwegian
origin. In the year 1873 the newspaper was reorganized with John A. Johnson,
John Anderson and Victor Fremont Lawson(a son of Iver Lawson who died in
1872) as publishers.
The firm had developed as newspaper publishers, book publishers as well
John Andersons business is described as one of three large scale urban
businesses (of Scandinavian origin) – the other two were I. T. Relling
and Christian Rasmussen.
I. T. Relling came from Norway in 1866 and had an editorial position with “Skandinaven”. In 1869 he returned to Norway. He made contact with publishers in Christiania(todays Oslo) and Copenhagen. He then returned to Chicago and established a bookstore in 1870. In 1874 he started publishing a weekly newspaper “Norden” and he also published books.
As import duties were high (for protective reasons) in the 1860s and
1870s in America the price of an imported book had to be “unnecessarily”
A hitherto unrecognised Jules Verne edition of “Voyage au Centre de
la Terre” in a Scandinavian language printed in America is found and described.
This is an addition to the very few known Jules Verne editions printed in America in a Scandinavian language intended for the Scandinavian emigrants in America.
The edition is brought as a supplement to a well known Scandinavian
newspaper “Skandinaven” from Chicago.
One other Jules Verne title issued by this company is known: “No 9672: Fortælling fra Norge”(“Un Billet de Loterie”), “Skandinaven´s Boghandel”, Chicago, Illinois, 1889”.
It is possible that the book was published as a separate book - not
only as a “supplement” to the newspaper “Skandinaven”. An indication is
found in a letter from one of the editors to another, where it is mentioned,
that 500 books should be bound and that more unbound copies could be sold.
The same letter indicates, that another printing company J. T. Relling
sold an edition of the same title in 1874. This edition is not known. It
is not certain that the editions mentioned in the letter are American printings
– it may be imported books from Scandinavia.
The book described is indeed one of a very few surviving Scandinavian-American
Jules Verne editions known by The Danish Jules Verne Society.
It may well be that the book has been bought by the “Black River Falls
Library” directly from the publishers. Small libraries are mentioned as
frequent customers in the Scandinavian publishing companies.
It has been very interesting to inquire into the history behind this
book. I am certain that much more information on the subject is or will
4. Orm Øverland: “Skandinaven and the Beginning of Professional Publishing”. Norwegian-American studies, Volume 31, p. 187. (NAHA online)
5. Jean Skogerboe Hansen: “Skandinaven and the John Anderson Publishing Company”. Norwegian-American studies, Volume 28, p. 35. (NAHA online)
6. Brian Taves & Stephen Michaluk, Jr.: “The Jules Verne Encyclopedia”. Scarecrow Press, 1996.
Henrik Wilfred Christensen, November 2006.