Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx. Volume One. Charles H. Kerr Publishers, Chicago. 1906.

Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx. Volume One. Charles H. Kerr Publishers, Chicago. 1906.

Capital arrives in America and it is not an overstatement to say that Charles H. Kerr brought it here. Only available in English through an extremely limited number of imports from London in the late 1880s, no complete, authorized edition of Capital was printed in the U.S. until this. Kerr began the project to publish all three volumes in 1902, two and three for the first time in English. Marx’s defining work went to press at Chicago’s John T. Higgins printers on September 1, 1906.

Among the single most editions of any work published in U.S. revolutionary history, this full version of Marx’s magnum opus was based on the 4th German Edition compared with the authorized translation done by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling in 1887 and overseen by Engels. To complete the translation process, Kerr received funds from Eugene Dietzgen, son of Joseph Dietzgen and patron of the Second International., ‘as a gift to the U.S. socialist movement.’ Marxist economist, translator, and writer Ernest Untermann holed up on a chicken farm outside of Orlando, Florida and began the massive task in early 1905.

Working on all three volumes of Capital simultaneously, he finished Volume One in July, 1906. He revised the footnotes, added an index, and found ten extra pages of text not in the previous English translation. The first run of 2000 quickly sold out and within several years over ten thousand had been sold. For the first time anywhere, Volume Two appeared in English in July, 1907. Financial needs (Kerr sold the books at a loss to encourage sales, and reading) delayed the completion of Volume Three, also the first time seen in English, until it was printed in July, 1909.

Sold as a set, these editions of Capital carry the ‘Jimmy Higgins’ , union bug, the long-time printer for Kerr, meaning they are the first authorized editions produced by a union shop. Priced at $2.00 a volume, $1.20 for stockholders (and only $3 for the set) in the Kerr Co-operative, these would be read by a generation of American Marxists as all three volumes went through numerous printings. Not superseded by subsequent translations until Ben Fowke’s 1976 translation.

PDF of first U.S. edition:

Online text of Capital Volume One (Progress Publishers 1967 translation):

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