• 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 196

    WHITMAN, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [Printed for the Author], 1855.

    Price Realised  


    WHITMAN, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [Printed for the Author], 1855.

    2o (287 x 205 mm). Engraved frontispiece portrait with tissue guard. Original green cloth, gilt-lettered and decorated in blind on front and back covers within a triple gilt rule, gilt-lettered and decorated spine, marbled endpapers, edges gilt (reset in binding); green morocco pull-off case. Provenance: Fred W. Allsopp, his sale part II Parke-Bernet 4 February 1946, lot 263; Clifford Odets (1906-1963), American playwright and screenwriter (autograph letter from his agent Alfred F. Goldsmith laid in.).

    "THE POET AND THE PROPHET OF DEMOCRACY ... the whole of Leaves of Grass is imbued with the spirit of brotherhood and a pride in the democracy of the young American nation. In a sense, it is America's second Declaration of Independence: that of 1776 was political, that of 1855 intellectual" (PMM)

    FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE BINDING (BAL's and Myerson's Binding A), First State of the frontispiece portrait (on heavy paper), second state of the copyright page as usual, second state of p. iv. "Whitman was spending nearly every day there [at the printing office of James and Thomas Rome in Brooklyn] that spring [of 1855], writing, revising, reading proof, even working at the type case, just as he had done twenty years earlier as an apprentice printer. Altogether he set in type about ten of the ninety-five pages of a book that he also designed, produced, published, promoted... The 795 copies the Romes ran off on their hand press and delivered to the binder were all there were or could be of the first edition. No plates were made; the book was printed from type, and the type distributed" (Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman: a Life, Toronto: Bantam Books, 1982, p. 198). Myerson notes that 795 copies were bound: 337 in Binding A in June and July 1855; 262 in Binding B in December 1855 and January 1856; and 196 copies in two other binding styles. BAL 21395; Grolier American 67; Myerson A2.I.a1; Printing and the Mind of Man 340. A SUPERB, BRIGHT COPY.

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