London: Printed and Sold by T. Read, in Dogwell-Court, White-Fryers, Fleet-Street, 1739. Facsimile edition. Hardcover. Tall octavo, original dark red boards with leather spine titled in gilt, black coated endpapers. 70 pp. A facsimile of the original 1739 edition, undated and with no printed attribution, but likely the edition published in the 1860's by John Camden Hotten (or perhaps the one issued by Bellairs). In any event, the paper is 19th century, not 18th. A bit of trick book, as I have seen it catalogued and offered as the true first edition, and it is easy to be duped, unless one can swiftly tell the difference between a 19th Century book and an 18th century one. Some light wear to binding edges, small ownership ticket of a 20th century book collector on front fixed endpaper; a very good copy. Very Good. Item #303155
¶ Considered to be the first English Joke-Book. Joe Miller was a popular comic actor on the London stage from 1709 until his death in 1738. A year later, the publisher T. Read enlisted a down-and-out writer named John Mottley to compile a book of jokes, and stuck Miller’s name onto it. Not only did Joe Miller originate only a handful of the Jests published posthumously under his name; he was apparently illiterate. The book proved wildly popular, and a series of ever-expanding editions followed. Meanwhile, the late comedian’s name entered the vernacular: A "Joe Miller" is a groaner, a hackneyed joke.