As I continue my co-curatorial work for the 200 Years of Frankenstein exhibit at the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Science Fiction Librarian JJ Jacobson and I have observed that our 1818 and 1831 copies are incredibly unique historical objects. Our 1818 Frankenstein (London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones) contains personal annotations written in Pitman's shorthand, which a friend of the Eaton collection has translated, and I am continuing to study. I am in the process of further researching these annotations from the perspective of historical reading and writing practices, since I view shorthand writing as a media technology in its own right, that speaks to the larger history of literature and science. Although Pitman's method was released in 1837, the shorthand characters periodically underwent small changes as the manual was updated via new editions throughout the century. As I begin familiarizing myself with the Eaton Frankensteins for this project, I look forward to conducting comparative research, in search of methodological variations that may help us narrow down the date(s) when the shorthand was written. This kind of dating, in turn, will provide us insight into the material history of our specific copy of Shelley's novel.
Our 1818 Frankenstein, though it originated in London and now resides in Riverside, California, contains watermarks from the "Adelaide Circulating Library," suggesting that it also was held, for a time, in Australia. Since the Adelaide Circulating Library has a history spanning from 1860 to 1975, there is much to be discovered from tracing the material life of our book, as it has crossed continents and changed hands for the past 200 years.
Our 1831 edition (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley) is a similarly singular object, which has been "Frankensteined" in many ways. Of course, it describes itself as "revised, corrected, and illustrated with a new introduction, by the author." This reference to textual changes made both by William Godwin and Mary Shelley herself affirms D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf's assertion that "all modern editions of the 1831 are, to [a] slight extent, composite texts" . But more than this, the Eaton's copy seems to have been cut up and re-bound. Sources suggest that the third edition Frankenstein was issued as number 9 in Bentley's Standard Novels series; in our edition, this portion of publication information has been cut out of one title page, and pasted into a new page in the re-bound book. Furthermore, I am currently researching some interesting disparities between our edition, and a digitized version of a similar 1831 book, made available by the University of Toronto via Archive.org.
Since there is still over a year of research to be done, the only thing I am sure of for now is that our collection is a treasure trove of Franken-history just waiting to be explored. Follow the UCR FrankenBlog, and check back for updates here, to see my vision of the exhibit as it grows, develops, and finally comes to life in 2018!
 "Introduction." In Frankenstein: the Original 1818 Text. By Mary Shelley, edited by D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf (Ontario: Broadview Press, 1999), page 40.