First Edition Points and Criteria for The Age of Innocence

Year Published: 1920
Author Last Name: Wharton
Author First Name: Edith
Publisher: Appleton and Company
Original Price: $2.00
Pages: 365

The Age of Innocence first appeared as installments in the Pictorial Review from July to October 1920. It was then published by Appleton in book form in October 1920 in New York and London. MCMXX is stated on the title page and 1920 is stated and copyright page of the first edition with no statements of subsequent printings. The last page of text has a "(1)" before "THE END", which indicates it is the first printing.

A comparison of the first, second, and seventh printings has indicated that there were many changes and edits made at some point after the second printing. They are not first edition points because they are known to exist on all first printings and at least some second printings. The change that is most often noted is on page 186 where line 7 began with "Forasmuch as it hath please Almighty God". It was changed to "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here".

The spine of the first issue dust jacket says "By the Author of 'The House of Mirth'" in the middle, and simply "APPLETON" on the bottom. The spine of later issue jackets mention the Columbia University Prize, which is how the Pulitzer Prize was sometimes referenced in its early years. Later jacket spines have a more elaborate blue publisher's logo that says "THIS IS AN APPLETON BOOK".

There are two states of the first issue dust jacket. Both states are identical except for the critical reviews on the back panel. One state features quotes about the author from Percy Lubbock that were pieced together from an article he wrote in the January 1915 issue of the Quarterly Review entitled The Novels of Edith Wharton. The other state features quotes by William Phelps that appeared in the New York Times on October 17, 1920 around the same time that the book was published.

In his 1990 biography of Wharton, Stephen Garrison mentions two "forms" of the dust jacket. Both forms by his account feature the Lubbock quote on the back. According to Garrison, the distinguishing features between the "forms" are on the spine. What he refers to as "Jacket B" announces the "Columbia (Pulitzer) Prize" on the spine. Since the Pulitzer Prize was presented in 1921, it is clear that "Jacket B" was issued later. Garrison makes no mention of a dust jacket variant with the Phelps quote.

The Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Picture of the 1920 first edition dust jacket for The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the 1920 first edition dust jacket for The Age of Innocence.

Picture of the first edition copyright page for The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the first edition copyright page for The Age of Innocence.

Picture of dust jacket where original $2.00 price is found for The Age of Innocence.
Picture of dust jacket where original $2.00 price is found for The Age of Innocence.

Picture of the back dust jacket for the first edition of The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the back dust jacket for the first edition of The Age of Innocence.

Picture of the first edition Appleton and Company boards for The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the first edition Appleton and Company boards for The Age of Innocence.

Picture of the back dust jacket flap for the first edition of The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the back dust jacket flap for the first edition of The Age of Innocence.

Picture of the first edition title page for The Age of Innocence.
Picture of the first edition title page for The Age of Innocence.

The number on the last page of text indicates the printing.  True first editions should
The number on the last page of text indicates the printing. True first editions should have a "(1)" to indicate a first printing.

This is page 186 from the first printing and from the seventh printing of the Age of
This is page 186 from the first printing and from the seventh printing of the Age of Innocence. "Forasmuch as it hath please Almighty God" was in all first printins and at least some second printings. It was updated to "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here" as early as the fourth printing.

One Age of Innocence dust jacket state features quotes about the author from Percy
One Age of Innocence dust jacket state features quotes about the author from Percy Lubbock pieced together from an article he wrote in 1915. The other state features quotes by William Phelps that appeared in the New York Times around the same time that the book was published.

This is the contents page from the January 1915 issue of Quarterly Review. The four Percy
This is the contents page from the January 1915 issue of Quarterly Review. The four Percy Lubbock quotes used in first issue dust jacket of The Age of Innocence were taken from the Wharton article.

The first Percy Lubbock quote used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is found on page
The first Percy Lubbock quote used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is found on page 194 of the January 1915 Quarterly Review. Some wording was changed slightly.

The second and third Percy Lubbock quotes used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is
The second and third Percy Lubbock quotes used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is found on page 195 of the January 1915 Quarterly Review.

The forth Percy Lubbock quote used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is found on page
The forth Percy Lubbock quote used on the Age of Innocence dust jacket is found on page 201 of the January 1915 Quarterly Review.

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Disclaimer: This website is intended to help guide you and give you insight into what to look for when identifying first editions. The information is compiled from the experience of reputable collectors and dealers in the industry. Gathering and updating information about these books is more an art than a science, and new identication criteria and points of issue are sometimes discovered that may contradict currently accepted identification points. This means that the information presented here may not always be 100% accurate. If you spot a mistake, drop us an e-mail and we will do our best to investigate and correct it.