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Grolier Club Exhibitions

The Hound of the Baskervilles in the US

The Hound was wildly popular in the US, selling 50,000 copies in less than two weeks. Demand was badly underestimated, the book returned to press multiple times, and consequently its publication history presents unexpected, complex bibliographical details.

The Hound took on a different look in America. Compare, for instance, the Strand’s advertising posters in the UK and US—the UK ad is a dour, typographic mash-up, the American an atmospheric, spine-chilling teaser. With its early move to colorful cover illustrations, the US Strand also stood out from competing literary magazines.

While Sherlock Holmes rose to prominence in the UK thanks in large part to the publishing innovations of George Newnes, his champion across the Atlantic was S. S. McClure. A powerful force in late 19th- and early 20th-century US publishing, McClure syndicated serialized literary works in hundreds of newspapers across the country, published books, and propelled muckraking journalism to prominence with McClure’s Magazine.

With a bit of Barnum in him, McClure was an indefatigable promoter. Not only did he catch the public eye with manuscript pages in bookstore windows, but he also worked assiduously behind the scenes. Those efforts produced what is today a possibly unique object: a partially printed book or “dummy” to help his salesforce sell the Hound to bookstores. It contains the second half of the novel, 108 blank pages, and ads for other McClure, Phillips books sandwiched in between.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Advertising poster, 30 × 19 in
New York: George Newnes, Ltd., January 1, 1902


Promotional poster for the American release of the novel in the US Strand Magazine, featuring artwork by Albert George Morrow. An Irish-born illustrator, designer, and cartoonist (1863–1927), Morrow was renowned for his theatrical posters. Like Sherlockian illustrators Sidney Paget and H. M. Brock, he came from a family of artists. Of eight brothers, five were illustrators.

Night Had Settled Upon the Moor

Frederic Dorr Steele
Night Had Settled Upon the Moor

Original artwork, 1938
Gouache, charcoal, and crayon on paper
18¾ × 14
¾ in


One of four illustrations for the Hound created by Frederic Dorr Steele for Twentieth Century-Fox, which used it in the press book for the 1939 Basil Rathbone/ Nigel Bruce movie. The eerie, blue-green scene was later used as one of the illustrations for the Hound published in 1950 by the Limited Editions Club.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
First US appearance
The Strand Magazine, Vols. 22–23, Nos. 128–136
New York: George Newnes

September 1901–May 1902


Shown here is the first of the nine parts of the Hound in the US Strand Magazine. Unlike its UK counterpart, the American edition often featured a pretty young thing on its covers amid seasonal imagery. During the run of the Hound in 1901–1902, they were posed with harvest grapes in October, turkeys in November, carolers in December—shapely and mildly suggestive, albeit tastefully garbed.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Salesman’s dummy
New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1902


It was long conjectured that McClure, Phillips & Co. had produced a “dummy,” a partially printed book, essentially a sample to help its salesforce sell the Hound to bookstores. Around 1960, Sherlockian collector Nathan Bengis found one. It has what was long thought to be a unique copyright notice. The second half of the novel (pages 113–249) appears first and is followed by six pages of ads and then by 108 blank pages. Bengis used the empty pages as a notebook for his Sherlockian musings, making his particular copy distinct. Alas, it has vanished, so the dummy shown here is the only one known at this time to exist.

The Hound of the Baskervilles The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
True first US edition
New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1902

Bengis hoped to find what he called a “perfect” Hound, a copy that had both “the full complement of pages” and the same copyright notice as in the dummy. I located such a volume in 2002, confirming the existence of a US Hound earlier than the previously bibliographically recognized “first state.” It contains the story’s complete text, all its illustrations, and the same copyright notice found in the dummy that marks it as an earlier printing than the volume traditionally accepted as the first. It is the true first state of the Hound in America.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Four variant US states, with principal details that distinguish them


Variants of the first US edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles abound because McClure returned to press multiple times to keep up with demand. The textblock and cover in these early states are the same across all the known variants. What differs are details on the title page and copyright page, each press run providing ample opportunity for altering and correcting wording, or introducing errors.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

State 1: 

The title page lacks the word ILLUSTRATED. The title page verso reads Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | A. CONAN DOYLE | [short rule] | Eight pages of ads. This was previously thought to be the “true first.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles

State 2:

The title page lacks the word ILLUSTRATED. The title page verso reads Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | A. CONAN DOYLE | [short rule] | Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | GEORGE NEWNES, LTD. | Published March, 1902.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

State 3:

The title page lacks the word ILLUSTRATED. The title page verso reads: Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | A. CONAN DOYLE | [short rule] | Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | GEORGE NEWNES, LTD. (No publication date line.)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

State 6:

The title page is a cancel (meaning the original page has been excised and a new one tipped in). The word ILLUSTRATED now appears on the title page. The title page verso reads: Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | A. CONAN DOYLE | [short rule] | Copyright, 1901, 1902, by | GEORGE NEWNES, LTD. | Published March, 1902, R

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
First US edition, second state
Inscribed
New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1902


This first American edition, second state, is inscribed by Conan Doyle at the top of the title page.

Holograph letter to A. P. Watt

Holograph letter to A. P. Watt
On Hindhead stationery February 21, 1903


Authorized by Conan Doyle in this brief message to Watt, Toronto publisher George N. Morang brought out editions of the Hound in boards and wrappers. Note that the glyph beneath Conan Doyle’s signature differs from that in item 17, indicating a different secretarial hand.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
First Canadian edition
Toronto: George N. Morang & Co., Ltd., 1902


The first Canadian issue of the Hound was published by Morang contemporaneously with McClure’s US edition, priced at $1.25. It looks much like its American cousin but features some illustrations not in the UK or US editions. This copy belonged to Chicago newspaperman, bibliophile, and Sherlockian scholar and collector Vincent Starrett. His bookplate is on the inside front cover and his ownership signature on the front free endpaper.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Second Canadian issue
Toronto: George N. Morang & Co., Ltd., 1903
In original printed wrappers


Morang published a second Canadian issue in 1903, bound in wrappers and priced at 50¢.

The Hound of the Baskervilles The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
First US edition, fourth impression, in dust jacket
New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, 1906


This is a “Special Limited Edition” produced by Grosset & Dunlap Publishers under authority from McClure, Phillips & Co., between late 1902 and 1906. The book has an exceptionally bright red cloth binding with an inset photograph of actor William Gillette, sporting his characteristic pipe and dressing gown. Its dust jacket is identical to the McClure jackets except for brown lettering instead of red. Apart from a new Grosset & Dunlap title page, the textblock was clearly printed from the McClure plates.