The Number run on 'First Editions'
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I know that an intact number line 1 - 10 is important, but does it mean that if it is not intact, but states FIRST EDITION, it is not a true first (I think of a US edition of a UK author for example). Or does it mean that it is not a first printing?
When the numbers are scrambled - what does that mean???
By itself the number line is not important. For example, a lot of reprints will have a complete printing slug like 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 or 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 or 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2. That just shows it's the first printing of that edition. It might be the 118th reprint edition of that book to come out. Some publishers only put out reprint editions but use a number line.
A UK edition and a US edition will usually each have a number line that begins with a 1 for the first printing. The true first is called for by release dates. If one was released to the public in one country two months before the other country then that is the true first. However, by following the flag the country of the author's origin is preferred by a lot of collectors. The true first of The adventures of Hucklberry Finn is the UK edition but the US edition is more sought after.
A lot of publishers will state FIRST EDITION on later printings with a number line like 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 with that number line denoting a sixth printing. What collectors want is first edition and first printing with the correct points and states for both the book and the dust jacket if any apply.
The second printing drops the "First Edition." Their paperbacks use a standard number line with the "1" present.
A good reference for this is A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions