The American editions of Thomas Atkinson’s books

I thought it might be useful to look into the various American editions of Thomas Witlam Atkinson’s books. His two main books, both originally published in London by Hurst & Blackett, are Oriental and Western Siberia (1858) and Travels in the Regions of the Upper and Lower Amoor (1860). A second edition of the second book, Travels, was published by Hurst & Blackett in 1861.

Both of the English volumes (see below) were published in Royal Octavo in cloth bindings that were beautifully decorated with gilt illustrations based on woodcuts used in the books. They are such good examples of the technique that both are now included in the British Library’s specialist collection of gilt book covers.

OWS Cover2                           Cover of Amoor book

In America things were slightly different.  Both books were published in several editions soon after their initial publication in London, but the paper quality is generally poor and the illustrations are weaker, with maps only present in the Harper editions. The size is also smaller. The 13 colour lithographic plates in the Hurst edition of OWS have been turned into much lower quality B&W engravings in the American editions. The woodcuts are also inferior. The artist used in the American books by Harper & Bros was Dorothy Hope Smith.

So far, I have been able to discover the following American editions:

For Oriental and Western Siberia, there are two editions from Harper and Bros of New York, in 1858 and 1865. There are also two editions by publisher J W Bradley of Philadelphia in 1859 and 1860. And then there is another edition by John E Potter, which is undated, but probably dates to about 1870. Potters often bought titles from fellow Philadelphia publisher Bradleys.

Potter edn
The John E Potter edition

For Travels in the Regions of the Upper and Lower Amoor I have been able to discover just two editions, both by Harper & Bros in New York, the first published in 1860 and the second in 1861.

The best example of the American editions is the Harper 1860 edition of the Amoor book (see below) which was available in a special edition of blue cloth with gilt illustration and a map, similar to the English edition. This is now rare.

cover-amoor-harper-1860a.jpg            cover-amoor-harper-spine.jpg

Neither of Atkinson’s books were published again until late in the twentieth century, when several academic publishers issued new editions. Later there were several varieties of print-on-demand books.

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