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    Sale 1922

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    3 December 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 401

    COOPER, James Fenimore (1759-1851). Precaution, A Novel. New York: A.T. Goodrich, 1820.

    Price Realised  


    COOPER, James Fenimore (1759-1851). Precaution, A Novel. New York: A.T. Goodrich, 1820.

    2 volumes in one, 12o (177 x 105 mm). Errata slip at the end of volume two. (Some light browning, intermittent spotting and small stains.) 19th-century half calf, spine in six compartments, gilt-lettered in one, the others decorated with small flower and scroll tools, marbled boards (lightly scuffed, inner hinges broken); modern quarter morocco gilt slipcase. Provenance: Mary Linn (gift inscriptions from her brother Henry dated 1820 on the title-pages, bookplate); given to her niece Mary L. Peters (inscription dated 1867).

    FIRST EDITION OF COOPER'S FIRST NOVEL, inscribed by a member of Cooper's grandson's family. James Fenimore Cooper married Susan Linn Sage on 2 June 1891. Published anonymously. "The arrangements for the late election and the subsequent death of the mother of Mrs. Cooper having compelled me to remain at home for the last two or three months -- For the double purpose of employment and the amusement of my wife in her present low spirits -- I commenced the writing of a moral tale -- finding it swell to a rather unwieldy size -- I destroy'd the manuscript and chang'd it to a novel -- the persuasions of my wife and the opinion of my Friend Mr. William Jay -- have induced me to think of publishing it..." (Cooper, letter to his future publisher Andrew Thompson Goodrich, 31st May, 1820). RARE: According to American Book Prices Current only four copies have been sold at auction since 1974. Beard The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper I pp. 41-42; BAL 3825; Sabin 16513; Spiller and Blackburn 1.

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    Saleroom Notice

    The illustration on page 135 of the catalogue is for lot 402, not lot 401.

    Pre-Lot Text


    "American society, American history, the American backwoods, and the sea" (Spiller).

    A REMARKABLE COLLECTION OF FIRST EDITIONS AND ASSOCIATION COPIES FROM THE WORKS OF JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. "The first American man of letters to take the whole of American experience as the private preserve of his ranging imagination and his critical mind. There is no doubt that, as a man of thought and feeling, more than any other writer of his generation, Cooper understood the time and place in which he lived and gave them voice and meaning. It is he who stands at the portal of American literature and who is recognized at home and abroad as the first and one of the greatest of American writers of fiction" (ibid).

    Including unique copies of many rare and fugitive pieces: the Letter of J. Fenimore Cooper, to Gen. Lafayette, on the expenditure of the United States of America. Paris, 1831 (lot 411) annotated by Cooper in preparation for further rounds of debate; a copy of Barnum's The Spy Unmasked. Cincinnati, 1831 (lot 410) including a letter from Cooper denying knowledge of the work's existence and its relevance to his Spy; a copy of Oak Openings. New York, 1848 (lot 443) with an original invoice from Cooper's stereotyper of choice John Fagan.

    Cooper's earliest fiction is present as are his best-loved Leatherstocking Tales. Most are in original publisher's bindings or early American bindings, including a particularly handsome copy of The Pilot. New York, 1823 (lot 405).

    Many of the works are signed, inscribed and/or annotated by the author, the families and descendants of his sister Ann Pomeroy (1784-1870); the extended and illustrious family of his wife Susan Augusta DeLancey (1792-1852); his daughters: the author Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), Maria Cooper and Caroline Martha Phinney.

    All are by descent from the private collection of Cooper's only surviving son Paul Fenimore Cooper (1824-1895), his son James Fenimore Cooper (1858-1938) and grandsons the author James Fenimore Cooper, Jr (1892-1918) and Paul Fenimore Cooper (1899-1970).

    No collection of the works of James Fenimore Cooper of comparable size and importance has appeared in the market for many decades.