Moby Dick

by Melville, Herman

Melville's classic was first published in England as three volumes titled The Whale in October 1851. Slow sales of Melville's previously books convinced Publisher L. Richard Bentley to reduce the printing to only 500 copies, and of that, only 300 sold in the first 4 months. The remaining unbound sheets were bound in a cheaper casing in 1852, and in 1853 there were still enough remaining sheets to again bind into an even cheaper edition.

Melville changed the title to Moby Dick a month later, November 1851, when the American Version was published in one volume by Harper & Brothers in NY. Of the 2,951 copies printed, 125 were review copies. About 1,500 sold in 11 days, but then sales slowed to less than 300 the next year. After two years copies of the first edition were still available, and almost 300 were destroyed in the 1853 fire of Harper's warehouse. Most of the first editions have orange end-papers, although there are 2 known volumes with rare white-endpapers.

Because of Nineteenth-century printing practices, and the time-lapse between when the first-editions were published and Melville became collectible, oxidized paper, bumped and chipped spines, and brittle wrappers are all common for even the most expensive and collectible of these books, which can sell from $35,000 to $100,000. Also, expect heavy wear and maybe even minor repair. Another collectible edition is the 1930 first edition illustrated by Rockwell Kent, a three-volume set published by the Lakeside Press with acetate dust jackets in an aluminum slipcase. These range in value from $9,000 to $11,000.

A total of 3,215 copies of Moby-Dick were sold during Melville's life (he died in 1891). Today, Moby-Dick is considered one of the greatest American novels. -

First Edition Identification

Melville's classic was first published by L. Richard Bentley in England in 1851 as a three-volume set entitled The Whale. Only 500 copies were printed. The US version, published a month later in November 1851 by Harper & Brothers, titled Moby Dick had 2,951 in the first printing. The U.S. version contained substantial textual differences even aside from the prominent change of title, including 35 passages that were wholly deleted from the English version. 

Other Collectible or Notable Editions

A 1930 edition of Moby Dick, illustrated by Rockwell Kent, was first published as a three-volume set in an aluminum case by Lakeside Press. The Lakeside Press edition was limited to 1000 copies.

Random House also published a trade edition of the Rockwell Kent illustrated Moby Dick in 1930. 

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Moby Dick; Or, The Whale.

Moby Dick; Or, The Whale.

by Melville, Herman

Condition
Used
Published
1851
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1
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Palm Beach, Florida, USA
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£51,467.00

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New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. First edition, first issue binding, with the circular Harper's device of Melville's masterpiece. Octavo, original purple-brown cloth (BAL's A grain), covers stamped in blind with the publisher's circular device at the center within a heavy blind rule frame, original orange-coated endpapers. Of the 2,951 copies printed, 125 were review copies. About 1,500 sold… Read more about this item
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£51,467.00
Moby Dick
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Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

Condition
As New. Books unread and in crisp, clean and collectable condition
Jacket Condition
Insignificant rubbing on slipcase
Edition
Limited Edition No. 1106 of 1750
Published
2009
Binding
Hardcover
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1
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Poole, Dorset, GBR
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£2,900.00

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Folio Society, 2009. Limited Edition No. 1106 of 1750. Hardcover. As New. Books unread and in crisp, clean and collectable condition/Insignificant rubbing on slipcase.
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£2,900.00
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

by MELVILLE, Herman

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Used
Published
1851
Binding
Hardcover
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Galena, Illinois, USA
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New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. Hardcover. Small 8vo. Original pebble-grained red cloth with gilt spine lettering and blind-embossed rules and front board publisher's device. xxiii, 635pp, (6pp ads). Very good. Internally tight and unrestored, showing only mild sporadic age toning and occasional light foxing; binding is sound and decent, with exposed tips; somewhat rough spine has had mild… Read more about this item
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£15,440.10
Moby Dick
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Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used - Good
Jacket Condition
No Jacket
Published
1930
Binding
Hardcover
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1
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Decatur, Indiana, USA
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£217.74

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New York: Random House, New York, 1930. Hardcover. Good/No Jacket. Rockwell Kent Illustrated Trade Edition (Entire work in one volume) Overall good condition The black boards with silver writing and illustration have rubbing, fading and some bumping at edges and corners Fading notable to the front illustration Some small soiling to the back board The spine is worn… Read more about this item
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£217.74
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.
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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.

by MELVILLE, Herman.

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Used
Published
1851
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1
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London, GBR
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New York: Harper & Brothers,, 1851. His masterpiece, in the original cloth First US edition of Melville's greatest work, in the first issue binding (BAL's "A" state, with the publisher's device on the covers and orange endpapers), a very smart copy notably free from any of the usual foxing. The US edition was the first to appear under the… Read more about this item
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£67,500.00
Moby Dick or the Whale
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Moby Dick or the Whale

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used - In very good condition. Fully-bound in richly black leather with raised bands and gilt lettering on spine and covers. All Edges
Jacket Condition
no dj as issued
Edition
Easton Press, 1977, The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written: Collect
Published
(1977)
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Nashua, New Hampshire, USA
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£138.56

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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance. Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale which on the previous whaling voyage destroyed his ship and severed his leg… Read more about this item
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Moby Dick

Moby Dick

by Melville, Herman; Geismar, Maxwell (ed.)

Condition
Used - Good
Published
1962
Binding
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Maplewood, Missouri, USA
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£9.50

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Washington Square Press, 1962. Good trade paperback . Mass Market Paper Back. Good.
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£9.50
Moby Dick, or, The Whale
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Moby Dick, or, The Whale

by MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891)

Condition
Used
Published
1851
Binding
12mo
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1
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New York, New York, USA
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£19,003.20

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New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. 12mo. (7 3/8 x 4 7/8 inches). xxiii, [1], 635, [1], [6]pp. Publisher's ads in the rear. Foxing. Publisher's red cloth, cover bordered in blind and with central Harper & Brother's circular stamp in blind, spine lettered in gilt, rebacked retaining the original spine, original brown/orange coated endpapers. Housed in a cloth box. … Read more about this item
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£19,003.20
Moby Dick or The Whale
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Moby Dick or The Whale

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used - Very Good
Edition
First Edition
Published
1930
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1
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Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
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£673.03

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Black cloth boards with silver title and whale particulars to spine and front cover, together with dustjacket wrapped in mylar. Dustjacket with losses to bottom of spine (see image). Previous owner's name, dated 1930, to front pastedown. A clean copy with no other names or markings. 5.5 x 7.5 in
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£673.03
Moby Dick Or The Whale
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Moby Dick Or The Whale

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used - Good-
Published
1937
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1
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Vernon, British Columbia, CAN
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£46.51

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Blue cloth covers are faded & gilt is worn on cover & spine. Covers are edge-worn; some text is underlined with notes. Inscribed to previous owner on front endpaper; ex libris sticker on front pastedown. A well-loved copy.
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£46.51
Moby Dick; or, The Whale; [Introduction by Clifton Fadiman and Illustrations by Boardman Robinson]
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Moby Dick; or, The Whale; [Introduction by Clifton Fadiman and Illustrations by Boardman Robinson]

by Melville, Herman

Condition
Used - Very Good
Edition
First Edition
Published
1943
Binding
Slipcased
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1
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Sebastopol, California, USA
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£26.92

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New York: The Heritage Press, 1943. First Edition. Slipcased. Very Good. Boardman Robinson. with book note [9.75x7in]; xxi, 615 pp., 29 illustrations by Robinson; Green cloth covers with gilt lettering in red field bordered with wave design on spine and front, top edge stained red, all edges trimmed; Mottled beige paper on stiff board slip case; Minor shelf… Read more about this item
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£26.92
MOBY DICK, OR THE WHALE
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MOBY DICK, OR THE WHALE

by Melville, Herman (novel); Kent, Rockwell (illustrations)

Condition
Used
Edition
First Edition Thus
Published
1930
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1
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Stephenson, Virginia, USA
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£2,969.25

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New York: Random House, 1930. First Edition Thus. First trade edition of Melville's novel illustrated by Rockwell Kent, following the three-volume Lakeside Press edition published the same year. One of the most iconic illustrated books of the 20th century, and a highpoint of Art Deco design and typography. A superior copy of a book that is almost always found… Read more about this item
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£2,969.25
Moby Dick

Moby Dick

by Melville, Herman

Condition
Used - Near Fine
Jacket Condition
N/A
Edition
First US Edition Thus/Second Printing
Published
2015
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9781435161405
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1
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Albany, California, USA
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£47.51

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New York: Barnes & Noble, 2015. First US Edition Thus/Second Printing. Hardcover. Near Fine/N/A. In blue illustrated bonded leather binding with silver and turquoise details and type. Silver page ends and blue ribbon marker. Just some light wear at corners.
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£47.51
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MOBY DICK

by Herman Melville

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Used
ISBN
9780895773227
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Morrinsville, NZL
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£6.33

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The World's Best Reading, Reader's Digest., U.S.A., 1989. Hard Cover. 8vo, First Thus. Book Condition: Very Good. Old price on board. Joseph Ciardiello (illustrator). The complete text. Unabridged. No jacket..
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£6.33
MOBY DICK. Or, The Whale
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MOBY DICK. Or, The Whale

by MELVILLE. HERMAN. ; KENT. ROCKWELL. Illustrates

Condition
Used
Edition
First edition.
Published
1930
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1
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London, Greater London, GBR
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£875.00

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Random House. New York. 1930. FIRST TRADE ROCKWELL KENT EDITION. 8vo. (7.4 x 5.8 inches). Illustrated by Rockwell Kent with woodcuts throughout the text, with full-page plates, chapter head- and tailpieces, other smaller cuts in the text. Finely bound in recent full black morocco, spine with five raised bands. Red title label. The compartments ruled, decorated and lettered in gilt.… Read more about this item
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£875.00
Moby Dick
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Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used - Near Fine
Edition
First
Published
1943
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1
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Washington, District of Columbia, USA
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£31.28

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This Heritage Press version of the Melville American classic is in virtually new condtion except for miniscule wear at top of spine and lower edge of back cover. XXI + 615 pages. Includes and introuction by Clifton Fadiman, sections entitled "Etymology" and "Extracts" and illustrations by Boardman Robinson. First edition; seemingly first printing. This is a moderately heavy book which may… Read more about this item
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£31.28
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MOBY DICK

by MELVILLE, Herman

Condition
Used - The leather is still supple with solid coloring. The spines are faded with some wear to the tips, and there's slight edgewear bu
Published
1943
Binding
Hardcover
Quantity Available
1
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Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, USA
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£989.75

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[Brattleboro, VT]: Limited Editions Club, 1943. Hardcover. The leather is still supple with solid coloring. The spines are faded with some wear to the tips, and there's slight edgewear but much less than normally encountered. Very Good, lacking the slipcase. A better example than most copies offered for sale. Boardman Robinson. Two quarto volumes (7-1/2" x 10") bound… Read more about this item
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£989.75
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Moby Dick or the White Whale (In the Original Slipcase)

by Melville, Herman

Condition
Used - Very Good+ with no dust jacket
Edition
Limited 1st edition
Published
1943
Binding
Leather
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1
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Lincoln City, Oregon, USA
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£475.08

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Limited Editions Club. Very Good+ with no dust jacket. 1943. Limited 1st edition. Leather. Rubbed at the spine ends. Spines are faded. The slipcase is rubbed at the edges, cipped at the bottom of the front (spine). 2" separation at the upper right edge of that front. ; Small 4to 9" - 11" tall; 616 pages; … Read more about this item
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£475.08
Moby Dick
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Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

Condition
Used
Edition
First Edition Thus
Published
1930
Quantity Available
1
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Clarence, New York, USA
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£1,187.70

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Description:
New York: Random House, 1930. First Edition Thus. Rockwell Kent. First edition thus, with the iconic Rockwell Kent illustrations. Measures approximately 7.25" x 5.5" with 822 numbered pages. With its scarce original dust jacket. This book is in near fine condition. Minor surface wear and staining to the bottom edge of the textblock. Minor staining to the… Read more about this item
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£1,187.70
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

by Melville, Herman

Condition
Used - Good
Edition
First Edition
Published
1851
Binding
Hardcover
Quantity Available
1
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Oxford, Oxfordshire, GBR
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£12,500.00

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New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. [5], vi-xxiii, [2], 2-634pp, [8]. Original blue-green cloth, title, author and publisher in gilt to spine with publisher's circular blind stamp to centre of covers, orange endpapers. Rebacked, with original back strip laid down, gilt to spine has largely been retouched (ie. bands to head, title, and author). Back strip lightly stained. Internally lightly… Read more about this item
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£12,500.00