The Stolen Mask; Or The Mysterious Cash Box (1864) by Wilkie Collins

The book cover is a worn, old, brown color.  The title reads: The Stolen Mask; Or The  Mysterious Cash Box
At the bottom of the page is the publisher information: COLUMBIA, S.C.: STEAM POWER-PRESS OF F.G. DEFONTAINE AND CO.  1864.

Wilkie Collins was an English novelist, playwright, and storywriter best known for his novels The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1968).  He was a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens, who helped Collins along in his writing career, and who published some of Collins’ writings—including The Woman in White—in Dickens’ magazine All the Year Round.   Like Edgar Allan Poe, Collins is known as one of the early writers in both the horror and detective genres.  In fact, The Moonstone is considered by many to be the first detective novel.  In addition to his several novels, Collins wrote many stories and short novels.  One of these stories is Mr. Wray’s Cash-Box, published in 1851.  There are very few editions of the book.  Though written in 1851, one edition of the book was published in 1869, published by “the relatively well known pirate press of Peterson’s of Philadelphia, as The Stolen Mask: or, the Mysterious Cash Box.  Issued in paper wrappers at 25 cents, this edition is a difficult item to find.”  An even more scarce edition of the book exists, however, this one published “in 1864 by the obscure Confederate publisher, The Steam Power-Press of F. G. DeFontaine & Co. in Columbia, South Carolina.  It consists of 31 pages printed in double columns.  It is a very strange choice by the publishers since most of the Confederate publications are tedious official documents” (Wilkie Collins Society Newsletter).

This Steam Power-Press edition of The Stolen Mask is available in Special Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi.   To view this book, visit Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives room 305 or contact Andrew Rhodes at or 601.266.6765.