Pirated Brussels Editions Which Precede the Official Paris Baudry Edition
DUMAS, Alexandre. Trois Mousquetaires, par Alexandre Dumas. Bruxelles et Leipzig: Meline, Cans et Compagnie , 1844.
Early Brussels edition. Precedes the official Paris Baudry edition which was also published in 1844. Five twelvemo volumes (6 1/4 x 4 1/8 inches; 158 x 105 mm). [iv], 276; [iv], 303, [1, blank]; [iv], 268; [iv], 262; [iv] 293, [1, blank] pp. Although unauthorized, all Belgian editions are extremely rare, perhaps even more so than the rare first Paris editions. We could find only one copy of this specific edition at auction in the last fifty years, and only two copies at libraries.

Uniformly bound in half calf over marbled boards, rebacked with original spines. Spines stamped and lettered in gilt. Fore-edges and bottom edges uncut. Silk page-markers. Corners bumped and boards a bit rubbed. Evidence of previous owner's bookplate removed on front paste down of each volume. Overall a very good copy of this set.

Les Trois Mousquetaires, was originally published as a serial novel, appearing one chapter at a time in the Parisian newspaper Le Siècle from March 14, 1844 to July 1, 1844. It was originally advertised as "Athos, Porthos and Aramis," but upon it's first appearance in Le Siècle it was given the title Les Trois Mousquetaires. The story was extremely popular and immediately various Belgian publishers raced to print and distribute copies which were small and inexpensive.

Dumas bibliographer Frank Wild notes "Issue by issue of Le Siècle was hastily acquired by the piratical publishers of Brussels, and as quickly the portion of Les Trois Mousquetaires which it contained was set up by them in type; then, as sufficient to form a volume accumulated, this was given to the public. Though these copies were `interdicted for France,' being small and unobtrusive many found their way across the frontiers." (The Colophon New Series, Vol. III, No. 3, Summer 1938 ("Dumas Revises `The Three Musketeers'").

It has been universally determined that these Belgian editions indeed came before the official Paris Baudry edition which was also published in 1844. Reasoning behind this is that this title is the only know instance within his romances where Dumas, after the publication in Le Siécle, asked to proof-read Les Trois Mousquetaires, and decided to make minor revisions. Additionally, Dumas opened up bidding for the publishing rights in Paris and ultimately Baudry was the high bidder and won the rights. All these textual changes that were made as well as the time it took for the French publishers to bid on the story speaks to the length of time it took to produce the official first edition. Another interesting thing to note is that because the Belgian editions took the text straight from the serial, these editions are the only ones which contain Dumas original, unrevised story.

" Frank Reed extensively analyzes the differences between the Belgium editions and those of Baudry and Calmann Lévy, who reprinted the Baudry text, and notes that most of the early translations were made from the Belgium editions, which were considerably less expensive than the authorized French edition. He also notes that, in many instances, Dumas' revisions were not necessarily improvements on the original. Given the time frame, the fairly extensive revising of the Baudry text by Dumas seems inevitably to have caused a delay in publication not encountered by the hasty Belgium publishers." (PBA Galleries)

Reed, F. W. A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas, Père. London, 1933. Munro, D. Alexandre Dumas Père, A Bibliography of Works published in French 1825–1900. New York, 1981

HBS # 68112 $5,000