Workers of the world, unite! The definitive edition in the original German, the basis for all later editions

Marx, Karl / Engels, Friedrich. Das kommunistische Manifest. Neue Ausgabe mit einem Vorwort der Verfasser.

Leipzig, Verlag der Expedition des "Volksstaat" (Druck von Fr[iedrich] Thiele), 1872.

Small 8vo (179 x 115 mm). 27, (1) pp. (collation: [A]8, [B]6 = 14 ff.). With a decorated rule on the title page and another above the colophon. Printed on machine-made wove paper. 20th century full red cloth.


The very rare, and definitive, second authorized edition, the first to appear under the now canonical title "Das kommunistische Manifest", with a new preface by the authors that would remain a standard part of the book from this date on. Second in importance only to the original 23-page edition from 1848 (surreptitiously reprinted in 30 pages, with the same date, in 1850/51), this is the most important and influential edition of the Communist Manifesto ever to appear.

The present edition is often referred to as the 'Liebknecht edition' or 'Liebknecht offprint'. In the course of a trial against the socialist Wilhelm Liebknecht, who had agitated against the Franco-Prussian War, the Manifesto had been read in the third session and thus entered into the records as evidence - a fact that afforded the Communists an unexpected opportunity to legally publish the Manifesto in Germany as part of the official court records. The offprint, with independent page numbers, was published by Liebknecht's "Volkstaat" press with the new preface dated 24 June, somewhat grudgingly provided by Marx and Engels. "The offprint edition - which is historically labelled the 1872 edition - was actually produced in only a few copies plus a batch of a hundred sent to Engels himself [...] Engels sent copies of this edition around Europe, in response to requests, as a model for foreign editions and reprints. Thus this ghost-edition became the progenitor of many real ones" (Draper, The Marx-Engels Chronicle, pp. 179f., 34).

In the preface, Marx and Engels note relevant events from the Second Congress of the Communist League in London (November 1847) to the Paris Commune (1871), stating their wish that a revised edition might later appear with a more elaborated introduction that would explain the historical development since the first edition in 1848. In fact, the present preface would remain unchanged for many subsequent editions. "The importance of this edition is due to the preface contributed jointly by Marx and Engels. It was the first and last time that Marx looked back at the Manifesto. His reaction: 'A detail here and there might be improved [...] the Manifesto itself has become a historic document which we do not feel we have any right to alter'" (Adams).

Binding shows light wear to extremities and a few stains to the lower board. Paper somewhat browned as usual; professional repairs to both outer corners of title-page and inner margin, not affecting the text. Repaired paper flaw in p. 16 (ca. 22 x 5 mm) with minor loss of text. A good copy; the definitive edition of a truly revolutionary book: few works have had such an enormous influence on the course of world history, and the present edition shows it for the first time in its definitive form. Of the utmost scarcity; a single specimen in auction records (the Chimen Abramsky copy). Andréas locates only nine copies worldwide; another was sold through our house in 2019.


Andréas no. 72. Kuczynski, Das kommunistische Manifest (Trier, 1995), p. 198, A'72. Rubel 712. ME-Erstdrucke, p. 14. Adams, Radical Literature in America, p. 50. Wilfried Nippel, "Friedrich Engels", in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte XI (2017), pp. 67-78, at pp. 70-71. Auvermann/Reiss/Sauer, p. 19. Cf. PMM 326 (1848 ed.).