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There is a very interesting article in the 1963 edition by L.E.S.Gutteridge, entitled “A History of Wisden”. It sheds hardly any light on the early print runs but does contain a lot of interesting information.
It has been suggested that Mr Gutteridge was paid for the article and for other work he undertook for the publishers from 1962 -1964 with a complete run of Wisdens, valued at around £275. A vast amount! Mr Gutteridge also owned a book shop and it could be argued that it was in his interests not to divulge (if known) print runs from the early years. Modern day cynics and the abundance of “information” real or not available to the latter day researcher have fuelled this opinion.
In reality paying a writers fee with a full set of Wisdens would have been unusual and as there is no record of any other contributor being paid in this way then it is fair to say that this assumption may well be incorrect.
Mr Gutteridge may have been told that no records of early print runs were available and indeed his employers may well have believed that to be the case. In the article the following are given as print runs for the years either side of WW2.
|1936||8500||(in total, no figures were found that separated Hardback and Paperback numbers for 1936-1940)|
|1941||4000||(800 Hardback & 3200 Paperback)|
|1942||5000||(900 Hardback & 4100 Paperback)|
|1943||7000||(1400 Hardback & 5600 Paperback)|
|1944||7000||(1400 Hardback & 5600 Paperback)|
|1945||8000||(1500 Hardback & 6500 Paperback)|
|1946||16000||(5000 Hardback & 11000 Paperback)|
|1947||20000||(6000 Hardback & 14000 Paperback)|
|1948||21000||(6500 Hardback & 14500 Paperback)|
|1949||32000||(10500 Hardback & 21500 Paperback)|
The article has some delightful and eloquent thoughts on the rarity (even in 1963) of the 1875 edition
“I (Gutteridge) have frequently been asked why the edition of 1875 is so very scarce and the simple answer can only be that fewer of them were issued…The edition of 1873 was a bumper issue for its time and contained the full scores of the visit of the English Twelve to America and Canada. This will have sold well. The issue of 1874 was smaller by 28 pages and may not have had so wide a circulation, although on the basis of the previous years, more copies may have been issued. It would have been normal practise to have reduced the number of copies produced for 1875.
It is also interesting to note that at this period, the year of publication was given at the foot of the title- page and that the title-page gave always the same year. This is not true for 1875 which reads “John Wisden’s Cricketers Almanack for 1875″ and had the date at the foot of the title-page as 1874. This implies that 1874 and 1875 were published in the same year and although this has often been taken for a misprint, it is probably true that 1875 was issued in December 1874