• The William E. Self Library, I auction at Christies

    Sale 2153

    The William E. Self Library, Important English and American Literature

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 164

    POE, Edgar Allan. The Opal: A Pure Gift for the Holy Days. Edited by N.P. Willis. New York: John C. Riker, 1844.

    Price Realised  


    POE, Edgar Allan. The Opal: A Pure Gift for the Holy Days. Edited by N.P. Willis. New York: John C. Riker, 1844.

    8o. (Some minor occasional foxing.) Engraved frontispiece, additional title, and 7 plates. Original publisher's plum cloth, sides decorated in gilt and blind, spine gilt-decorated, edges gilt (spine lightly sunned, minor wear to extremities, first gathering sprung). Provenance: THOMAS HOLLEY CHIVERS (1809-1858), poet and friend of Poe (presentation inscription in pencil from Poe on title-page); J.H. Whitty, Poe bibliographer and scholar (ink provenance note laid in).
    FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY POE TO HIS FRIEND AND FELLOW-POET THOMAS HOLLEY CHIVERS on the title-page: "E.A.P. to T.H.C." Contains the first printing of Poe's sketch "Morning on the Wissahiccon" (pp. 249-256), which was later renamed "The Elk" when republished after Poe's death.

    Thomas Holley Chivers was an American doctor-turned-poet from Georgia. Poe showed an interest in the young poet and encouraged his work. The first interaction between the two was in 1840 though they did not meet until 1845 in New York. "Chivers's own poetry at this time dwelt on shrouds, coffins, angels, and celestial reunion with lost loved ones, his The Lost Pleiad (1845) featuring sonnets with such titles as 'Death,' 'The Grave,' and 'On Hearing of the Death of my Mother.' Not surprisingly, Poe praised the volume as 'the honest and fervent utterance of an exquisitely sensitive heart,' and particularly admired a poem of Chivers whose refrain was 'She came from heaven to tell me she was blest.' (He often recited it, with tears in his eyes, according to Muddy.)" (Silverman, Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance, 1991, p. 259). The two became friends and Chivers was willing to give Poe lifetime financial support if he moved to the South. Poe hoped Chivers would lend his wealth as a financial backer for The Stylus and possibly even serve as a co-editor in its early planning stages. Chivers considered Poe's proposal but was not able to accept because of the death of his three-year-old daughter just over a week later. Chivers spent the last few years of his life defending the reputation of Poe, who had died in 1849, though he also thought Poe had been heavily influenced by his own poetry. BAL 16139; Heartman & Canny, p. 80. A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY.

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