The First Issue of the First Printing of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," Called by PMM "America's Second Declaration of Independence"


(Brooklyn: s.n., 1855). 288 x 200 mm. (11 3/8 x 7 3/4"). xii, 95 pp. FIRST EDITION, First Issue (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).

Original publisher's green cloth, covers with gilt frames, gilt titling, and decoration in blind, flat spine titled in gilt, marbled endpapers, the binding with extensive refurbishing and very skillful repairs (see below). Housed in a green quarter morocco box. Frontispiece portrait of the author, original tissue guard. BAL 21395; Grolier American 67; Myerson A2.I.a1; PMM 340. Some variations in color to boards (because of refurbishing), the gilt with variable degrees of brightness (visible but rather dulled on the spine, a bit less than bright on the front cover, and with original luster on the back), but the expertly restored binding entirely solid and certainly agreeable enough. Isolated marginal smudges, otherwise A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, the text clean, smooth, and fresh.

Offered here in the first issue of the first printing, this collection of Whitman's poetry is described by PMM as "America's second Declaration of Independence: that of 1776 was political, that of 1855 intellectual." Dubbing Whitman (1819-92) "the Poet and the Prophet of Democracy," PMM adds that "the whole of Leaves of Grass is imbued with the spirit of brotherhood and a pride in the democracy of the young American nation." Most of this volume is occupied by the celebrated "Song of Myself," a publication so sexually candid as to be branded immoral at the time, but now recognized as one of the great achievements of 19th century American poetry. Reviews in 1855 were mixed, with the most enthusiastic coming from Emerson, whose words of praise became the preface to the second edition. According to Myerson, 795 copies of the first edition were bound: 337 in Binding "A" in June and July of 1855; 262 in Binding "B" in December, 1855 and January, 1856; and 196 copies in two other binding styles. Copies of this edition fetch more than $100,000 at auction, and the infrequently found copies in fine condition can go for more than twice that amount; our copy is priced advantageously as a reflection of the (skillful) restoration work the cover has undergone. Laid in is a very thorough printed delineation of the repairs (which involved the partial incorporation of a backstrip from a later facsimile cover) performed on the book by Lyn R. Jacobs.

Add to Cart Price: $65,000.00

PJP Catalog: CA19BF.063


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