(Charleston, S.C. J. S. Burges, 1833). 155 x 105 mm. (6 x 4"). 159 pp., title page in facsimile. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary marbled calf, covers with pretty gilt frame of tulips and palmettes, rebacked to style preserving most of original backstrip, smooth spine divided into compartments with floral and azured frame, black morocco label, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Dedication page with ink signatures of C. F. Moïse (see below) and Dorita Moïse Kohn; verso of final leaf of text with date "1865" in ink; recto of rear free endpaper with signature of C. F. Moïse. A little crackling to leather on boards, two small white spots to front cover, corners rubbed to cardboard beneath, but the restored binding sturdy and not without appeal. First two leaves a little browned, text a bit foxed throughout (due to paper quality), with half a dozen openings noticeably affected, isolated corner creases, a couple of marginal ink smudges, but still a desirable copy with no fatal defect.
This is an excessively rare copy of the first book published by an American Jewish woman and the first book of poetry published by an American Jew. In addition, it is an association copy. Penina Moïse (1797-1880) was born in Charleston, S. C., where her family were active members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim synagogue, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States. From an early age, Penina found poetry the perfect vehicle for self-expression; her verse was published in two of the leading ladies' magazines, "Godey’s Ladies Book" and "The Home Journal" of New York, in the Jewish journals "The Occident" and "American Jewish Advocate," and newspapers including the Charleston Courier, the Boston Daily Times, the New Orleans Commercial Times, and the Washington Union. At the behest of her friend and mentor Isaac Harby, one of the pioneers of Reform Judaism, she wrote nearly 200 hymns for the Reform Jewish service, some of which are still used today. The present volume is more secular in tone, and begins with a charming dialogue between the author and a friend concerning the poet's trepidations about the reception of her poems—with apathy rather than criticism being her greatest fear. The subjects of the poems include historical or patriotic themes, Classical inspirations, elegies for departed friends, and, of course, love. Our copy is signed in several places by C. F. Moïse, mostly likely Cecelia Frances Moïse (1855-1947), the granddaughter of Penina's beloved brother Abraham. Cecelia apparently bequeathed it to her niece, Dorita Moïse Kohn (1900-92). This work is almost never found for sale: we were able to trace no other copy in ABPC and RBH since 1925. (ST17195)
Add to Cart Price: $6,000.00
PJP Catalog: 79.152