PANTHER, Abraham, pseudonym. A Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman Discovered in a Cave in the Wilderness, after Having Been Taken by the Savage Indians, and Seeing No Human Being for the Space of Nine Years. In a Letter. By a Gentleman to His Friend. Leominster, Mass.: Charles Prentiss for Chapman Whitcomb, [ca 1799].
12o (188 x 113 mm). 12 pages. (Few repairs to inner and outer margins.) Sewn in plain brown wrappers; brown morocco pull-off case by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Provenance: Joseph B. Shea; C.G. Littell (his sale Parke-Bernet, 6 February 1945, lot 798).
THE SHEA-LITTELL COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, NOTABLY RARE. "The pamphlet was probably printed between 1795 and 1799. Charles Prentiss began printing in Leominster at the first date, and his second newspaper, the 'Political Focus' apparently ceased publication in December 1799...Clark in his 'Notes on Chapman Whitcomb,' 1911, p. 14, states that except for what appears to be a second edition of the 'Narrative of the Captivity of John Vandike,' 1801, probably the date of none of the Whitcomb chap-books can be fixed nearer than 'about 1800'" (Sabin). A number of editions of this apparently spurious captivity narrative about an escape in 1777 were printed around this date; see Ayer Supplement 94-95, and other entries in Sabin.
The text relates the story of a young woman, born in Albany in 1760, ordered by her father to stop seeing the young man who is courting her. Defying him, the two wander off, only to be captured by Indians, the man being burned at the stake. The woman manages to escape, wandering for fourteen days before again being suprised by an Indian. Freeing herself of the bonds he'd put on her, she writes: "I then cut off his head, and next day, having cut him in quarters, drew him out of the cave, about half a mile distance..." The pseudonymous author, Abraham Panther, discovered the unfortunate woman and relates her tale, including the death of her father upon her return. The work is very rare, not appearing in either the Streeter or Siebert collections. The last copy at auction appears to be this, the Shea-Littell copy, sold in the Littell sale in 1945, called there "EXCESSIVELY RARE". Evans 36035 (3 copies: AAA, NYPL, YC); Sabin 93900.