The frontispiece is based on the very first illustration in the 1868 serialisation Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilisation, the 4 January 1868 uncaptioned headnote vignette depicting a much earlier set of Brahmin priests worshipping the Hindu Moon God at his shrine in Benares, the gigantic diamond apparently glowing with its own light in the centre or "third eye" of the statue's forehead. The illustration does not give the viewer the sense of the deity's statue being in the confined space of a Hindu temple. Rather, the American illustrator enshrouds the statue in the voluminous smoke of the incense-burner (lower left), so that the idol and its devotees exist outside conventional space, in an otherworldly or unworldly circumstance that is soon to be violated by foreign conquerers of an entirely different religious faith (in the first instance, the Islamic invaders of India). Thus, the former headnote vignette converted to a frontispiece entitled The Idol and the Moonstone makes manifest Collins's issues of imperial conquest and the timeless devotion of the priests, which parallels the other "romance" of the story, that of Franklin Blake and Rachel Verinder. Wood-engraving, 12.7 cm high by 7.6 cm wide. This is evidence of Harper's having the original serial illustrations re-drafted for volume publication as the original (4 January 1868) vignette was 11.3 cm by 5.5 cm, and would not have been sufficiently large for a full-page frontispiece. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.] Click on image to enlarge it.


The overall calibre of the book, particularly the poor-quality paper and its much-reduced program of illustration, implies that it is a cheap re-print, issued in the context of Collier's issuing all of Collins's works in a thirty-volume series. The 1868 novel occupies all of volume 6 ("with fifteen illustrations" out of the total of nineteen) and 190 pages of volume 7, the remaining 412 pages being occupied by The New Magdalen. Other titles in the 1900 series are as follows: Vol. 1, The Woman in White (1860); 2, Short Stories, Part One; 3, Man and Wife (1870) and Short Stories, Part Two; 4, Man and Wife, Part Two; 5, The Law and The Lady (1875); 8, Armadale, Part 1; 9, Armadale (1866), Part 2; 10, Basil (1852), and Little Novels (1887); 11, Hide and Seek (1854); 12, No Name (1862), and Little novels, Part 2; 14, The Queen of Hearts (1857), and Little Novels, Part Three; 15, Poor Miss Finch (1872); 16, The Dead Secret (1874); 17, Antonina; or, The Fall of Rome (1850); 18, The Two Destinies (1876); 19, After Dark (1856); 20, My Miscellanies; 21, The Fallen Leaves (1879); 22, The Haunted Hotel (1879); 23, The Black Robe (1881); 24, The Evil Genius (1885); 25, Heart and Science: A Story of the Present Time (1883); 26, The Legacy of Cain (1888); 27, Jezebel's Daughter (1889); 28, Blind Love (1890); 29, I say No (1884); and 30 A Rogue's Life (1865). None of his eight plays, including The Frozen Deep and No Thoroughfare (upon which he collaborated with Charles Dickens), appear in the collection, which seems to be organised according to popularity rather than by strict chronology of publication.

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Last updated 1 September 2016