In my library, I have the stated First American Edition and the stated Second American Edition of Samuel Johnson's Rasselas. The publishers printed that information directly on the title pages. We now know that the first and second American editions of Rasselas were published before 1803, but how were these two publishers to know that? The first bibliography of the works of Samuel Johnson wasn't published until 1915.
William Prideaux Courtney prepared this bibliography but died before it was printed. David Nichol Smith made a few revisions and sent the bibliography thru the press in 1915. The bibliographical information for the first listing of an American Edition of Rasselas, however, was noticeably scant. And we would find out later that it was misdated.