James Branch Cabell : An Illustrated Bibliography

THE CORDS OF VANITY: A Comedy of Shirking

Publication Notes:

Six chapters in this book originally appeared as short stories in the Smart Set:

Afternoon in Arden (July, 1902)
As the Coming of Dawn (September, 1902)
An Incarnation of Helen (October, 1902)
The Story of Stella (August, 1903)
Old Capulet's Daughter (September, 1903)
Mammon's Match (March, 1904)

Bibliographic Notes for the 1909 Doubleday issues:

Hall lists only a single 1909 Doubleday printing in two states. In this, he agrees with the previous bibliographies by Holt and Brussel. Hall's first state, CoV-A1, is distinguished by the omission of "The" in the title on the spine and front cover, and by the lack of a fly-title reading PROLOGUE preceding the prologue. In his second state, CoV-A1a, "The" is present in the title on the spine and front cover, and the fly-title is present preceding the prologue. He further states that the additional leaf has been "inserted".

Francis Brewer, in her 1957 bibliography, describes the 1909 edition differently. While her description of the first state matches that of the other bibliographers, she states that (p. 29) [s]econd and later printings have a page with the word "Prologue" inserted between "Contents" and "Prologue". She further states [a]ll bindings, except the first, have the word "The" before the title on both cover and spine.

The Silver Stallion has seen four states of the 1909 Doubleday edition. We previously described these as four states of a single printing. Following some very close bibliographic examination, we have now determined that Mrs. Brewer was correct in stating that there were in fact two 1909 Doubleday printings. We have designated these as CoV-A1 and *CoV-A2. Because we have seen three binding states of the second printing, we are also designating two additional codes: *CoV-A2a and *CoV-A2b.

CoV-A1 - Our first printing, first (and only) state is the same as the traditional first state described by previous bibliographers: red ribbed cloth (BAL Type "T"); "The" omitted on front cover and spine; no fly-title preceding the prologue. We also note that the first gather ends with page xx, and leaf pp. (v-vi), the dedication leaf, is cognate with the first leaf of the prologue proper, pp. (xi)-xii. The last gather begins with page 329 and includes one blank leaf.

*CoV-A2 - The binding is the same as CoV-A1: red ribbed cloth sans "The". However, the internals are now clearly a second printing. In this and all following states, the fly-title reading "PROLOGUE" is present as page (xi). This leaf is not "inserted", as stated by previous bibliographers, but is integral to the first gather and is cognate with pp. (v-vi), the dedication leaf. Because of this, the pagination of the prologue in this printing is off by two pages. Thus, the first gather ends with page [xxii], but this page is still enumerated as xx. The last gather begins with page 331 and does not include a blank leaf.

*CoV-A2a - A later binding state of the second printing. The internals are identical to *CoV-A2 and the binding is in the same red ribbed cloth as the first two states, but now "The" has been added to the cover and spine.

*CoV-A2b - Another later binding state of the second printing. Identical to *CoV-A2a except that the binding is in flat-grained cloth (BAL Type "BF").

Obviously, we don't have any real information about the precedence of the different states, and our designations should be read in that light. Our thinking runs along these lines: The first printing, CoV-A1, has errors both on the cover and in the internals. The first state of the second printing, *CoV-A2, corrects the internals by adding the missing fly-title, but retains the early binding missing the first "The". The second state of the second printing, *CoV-A2a, corrects the omission of "The" on the cover and spine. In in the final state, *CoV-A2b, the red ribbed cloth is replaced with a cheaper flat woven cloth. Conjecture? Of course, but it seems reasonable to us, and we'd love to hear your comments and thoughts.

Bibliographic Notes for the 1909 Hutchinson issues:

As he does for the 1909 American edition, Hall lists two states of the first English printing. His first state, CoV-B1 (E), is distinguished by the presence of a 32-page Hutchinson catalogue following the text. Brussel notes that the catalogue is dated August, 1909. Hall's second state, CoV-B1a (E), omits the catalogue.

Alhough we have not yet seen a copy of the first state, we have no comments on his descriptions. We can, though, add a third state, which we have called *CoV-B1b (E). Like the first state, this issue has a 32-page Hutchinson catalogue, but it is clearly a later version because the catalogue is dated Spring, 1914.