MARX (KARL) Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867

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Lot 98
Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867

Sold for £ 218,500 (US$ 283,132) inc. premium
Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, inscribed "'Seinem Georg Eccarius/ Lond. 18 Sept. 1867. Karl Marx" on verso of title, 2 small pencil corrections and one ink correction to text, presumably in the hand of Eccarius, light toning and dampstain in upper margins throughout, occasional soiling and offsetting, title-page beginning to separate at gutter, small burn mark to lower edge of first few gatherings, contemporary half calf, rubbed, binding detached, British Museum Reading-room ticket and some family papers loosely inserted [PMM 359], 8vo (219 x 131mm.), Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867



    'Amongst the most influential pieces of writing in world history' (International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam), Das Kapital was the culmination of many years' work in the British Museum. This first volume was the only one published during Marx's lifetime, the later volumes, edited by Engels from the author's manuscript, appearing in 1885 and 1894. Marx's own annotated copy, along with the only surviving handwritten page of the Communist Manifesto, were inscribed on the prestigious UNESCO 'Memory of the World Register' in 2013.

    Johann Georg Eccarius (1818-1889, also known as John George Eccarius) was a German emigré tailor and labour activist who joined the English branch of the League of the Just, a group of German artisans and professionals who had fled from Paris after the failure of the 1839 uprising. In 1846 Marx and Engels, then living in Brussels, were invited to join the League, which was in the process of evolving into the Communist League, and the following year they attended its second congress in London. It seems likely that Eccarius met Marx and Engels on this occasion, since he was in 1848 elected as member of the new three-man Central Committee of the League. A year later Eccarius co-opted Marx onto the same Committee (Marx later became President) and became his staunch supporter over the next 20 years. And it was Marx that gave Eccarius his first publishing opportunity:
    Eccarius' article on "Tailoring in London or the Struggle Between Large and Small Capital" appeared in the London magazine NRZ Revue in 1850. Marx helped him write the article, edited it, and probably formulated some of the passages: and then presented it to the public with a special blare of trumpets: "The author of the article is himself a worker in one of the London tailor shops. We ask the German bourgeoisie how many writers they have who are capable of comprehending the actual development in similar fashion... here a purely materialist and free conception, undistorted by emotional grumbling, confronts bourgeois society and its development" (Hal Draper, Marx's Theory of Revolution, vol. II, 1978).
    Throughout the 1850s Marx continued to encourage Eccarius, and to try and make sure his financial needs were met. Marx 'in his personal relationships could exercise great tact and generosity... he even pawned Jenny's last coat to help Eccarius when he was ill' (David McLellan, Karl Marx. A Biography, 1973, p.253). This bout of consumption, suffered by Eccarius in 1859, was described by Marx in a letter as "the most tragic thing I have yet experienced in London". Marx also paid Eccarius's rent at a time when when he had to give up tailoring due to bad health, and when three of Eccarius's children died of scarlet fever in 1862, it was Marx who organised an appeal to cover the funeral expenses.

    In 1864 Eccarius attended the first meeting of the International Workingmen's Association, the 'First International', and was nominated by Marx to speak on his behalf. Three years later, just before Das Kapital was published, Eccarius was elected the organisation's General Secretary. He had just written a series of articles in collaboration with Marx entitled A Working Man's Refutation of Some Points of Political Economy Endorsed and Advocated by John Stuart Mill, 1866-1867, much of which was on the subject of capital, labour and population. At the same time, Eccarius was one of those privileged enough to be shown parts of Das Kapital as it neared completion, and told friends that "the Prophet Himself is just now having the quintessence of all wisdom published" (quoted in Francis Wheen, Karl Marx, 1999, p.298).

    Despite this close collaboration and friendship, relations between the two started to deteriorate over the next two years, mirroring the situation on the General Council. Eccarius had started to form closer links with English associations such as the Land and Labour League, for which Marx had little time, and
    in his reporting to The Times, seems to have tried to claim for himself the credit of some of Marx's ideas... Marx charged him with abusing his position. Both Eccarius and Hermann Jung disliked the presence of Blanquists on the Council and favoured cooperation with working-class radicals... In spite of Marx's plea to Eccarius that "the day after tomorrow is my birthday and I should not like to start it conscious that I was deprived of one of my oldest friends and adherents", the breach this time was final' (McLellan, p.379).
    This plea from Marx had been written in response to Eccarius's curt note the day before (addressing Marx as "Sir"), and began
    Dear Eccarius:
    You seem to have gone crazy, but since I still think this is a passing aberration, you will excuse me that I do not address you as either Sir or Mister or Master and that I write to you in German instead of English... you will recall that all the rows I ever had with Englishmen, from the founding of the International until now, have been due simply to my always having taken your part (letter to Eccarius, May 3).

    Nonetheless, Marx could not forgive the "indiscretions" Eccarius had committed in his newspaper reporting, and when Eccarius insisted on resigning his position, Marx openly split with him, describing his former friend as "a scoundrel pure and simple—canaille even". Engels went further, saying Eccarius was "thoroughly demoralised... truly wretched... a traitor... a real traitor [who] turned the International into his milk cow". The ramifications were serious: "In the final analysis, it was the fear of yet another scandal that in May 1872 prompted Marx and Engels to abandon their political careers" (George Fabian Karl Marx: Prince of Darkness (2011). The permanent estrangement of the once close friends and collaborators was symptomatic of the wider conflict which dominated the Hague Congress that year and led to the disintegration of the First International, a defining moment often considered to represent the origin of the long-running feud between anarchists and Marxists.

    Eccarius spent the rest of his life working with the British labour movement in much less prominent roles. When the Imperial archives were opened in 1918, allegations surfaced that by 1872 he had become a paid police informer, supplying briefings on the International to the authorities in Vienna, but these have never been substantiated.

    Very few presentation copies of the first edition are known to have survived, but at least two others were inscribed by Marx on the same day in London, presumably when the first batch arrived from Hamburg. One is the copy held by Trinity College Cambridge, which bears a similar inscription 'in Marx's own hand' to "Dem Deutschen Arbeiter-Bildungsverein [The German Worker's Educational Association] /Lond. 18 Sept. 1867. Karl Marx". The other copy, inscribed in a similar fashion to Professor Edward Spencer Beesly, was sold at Bloomsbury Auctions on 27 May 2010, lot 606 (£115,000). Only one other copy appears to have been offered at auction in the post-war period: inscribed to the English socialist reformer John Malcolm Ludlow on the title-page ("on the part of the author"), it was purchased by the Harry Ransom Center at Sotheby's, on 23 June 1969.

    The corrections in the present copy comprise: page XII of the Foreword, 'transatlantischen Oceans' with 'trans' crossed through in pencil; p.417, 'zwei Monaten Geldbusse' with 'geldbusse' crossed through and replaced in ink, seemingly by Eccarius, with 'Gefängniss Strafe' (i.e. 'prison' rather than a 'fine'); p.611 (as listed in errata), the word 'ist' obliterated in pencil; p.766, a later pencil annotation in English ('he gets paid that way'). The loosely inserted British Museum request ticket, filled out in the same hand as the ink note above, is for a copy of Adam Anderson's An Historical and Chronological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce, 1764. Also inserted is a sheet of notes relating to a meeting of the National Sunday League (a philanthropic educational organisation that fought for museums, concert halls and similar institutions to be open to workers on Sundays since they could not visit them on week-days), with Eccarius listed as one of the attendees.

    Provenance: Johann Georg Eccarius (1818-1889); and thence by direct family descent to the present owners.
MARX (KARL) Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867
MARX (KARL) Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867
MARX (KARL) Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO JOHANN GEORG ECCARIUS, Hamburg, Otto Meissner, 1867
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