Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1922. First edition. Small quarto. Original blue wrappers, titles to cover in white. Housed in a custom blue cloth flat-backed folding case. Bookseller's compliments slip loosely inserted recording sale of this copy in 1977. Wrappers bright and sharp, extremities a little rubbed, short splits to head and foot of joints but entirely sound, rear wrapper with minor soiling and small puncture mark extending to final few pages, internally fresh and clean, free from marks, a few pages uncut. A very nice copy indeed in the original wrappers. First edition, first printing, number 868 of 750 copies, the famous blue wrappers bright and well-preserved.
The first printing of Ulysses consisted of three issues: 100 copies on Dutch handmade paper and signed by Joyce; 150 large paper copies, unsigned, on vergé d'Arches; and the "trade" issue of 750 copies on linen, the least expensive paper stock of the three. The order in which copies were sent out by Sylvia Beach implies that the 750 series may have been printed first. Sylvia Beach's notebook records that this copy went to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Joyce's agent for Ulysses and the proprietor of the Egoist Press, publisher of Joyce's first novel. Weaver had assumed that she would be publishing an ordinary edition of Ulysses "to be released in the UK in tandem with the American edition. When plans for Beach's edition were announced in April of 1921, and described to her solely as a replacement for the American edition, Weaver assumed that she was still free to proceed with her own edition. But a British ordinary edition posed an insuperable problem to Beach's project. No-one, after all, would want to pay the hefty price of the deluxe edition when a few months' wait would procure the same book at one-fifth or one-seventh the price. By July of 1921 Beach was forced to ask Weaver to cancel the projected UK edition in order to stop the loss of potential orders. Weaver reluctantly agreed" (Levenson, p. 57). This copy went to Shaw "on sale" on 1 March 1922. "On 5th March 1922, only four weeks after the book's publication date, Sisley Huddleston published a glowing review of Ulysses in The Observer. Two days later, Beach received orders for 136 copies, and by 14 March she had exhausted the entire supply of cheaper copies at 150 francs" (Levenson, p. 58). Slocum & Cahoon A17. Michael Levenson (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, 2003. (Item #4008)