View full screen - View 1 of Lot 252. WHITMAN, WALT | Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [For the author by Andrew and James Rome], 1855.
252

WHITMAN, WALT | Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [For the author by Andrew and James Rome], 1855

Estimate:

120,000

to
- 180,000 USD

WHITMAN, WALT | Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [For the author by Andrew and James Rome], 1855

WHITMAN, WALT | Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [For the author by Andrew and James Rome], 1855

Estimate:

120,000

to
- 180,000 USD

WHITMAN, WALT

Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [For the author by Andrew and James Rome], 1855


Small folio (11 1/8 x 7 3/4 in.; 281 x 197 mm). Frontispiece portrait of the author by Hollyer after a photograph printed on thick paper, original tissue guard; frontispiece very lightly foxed with minor creasing to tissue, first signature loosening, paper over rear hinge split. Publisher's dark green coarse-ribbed cloth, spine with gilt title and floral ornaments, corners of center of covers with blind-stamped floral ornaments, upper cover titled in ornamental, "rustic" gilt font all within triple-ruled frame, marbled endpapers, edges gilt; cloth of lower joint cleanly split, tiny hole to spine cloth at head with some very light fraying at head and tail but gilt spine ornaments only slightly faded, upper cover gilt a little rubbed, one short tear to cloth at foot of spine closed. Folding case.


First edition, first issue of one of the most attractive but fragile books in American literature. This self-published effort by Whitman was partially type-set by the author. A run of 795 copies comprising the first edition were printed on the small handpress of the Romes on Cranberry Street in Brooklyn, with only 337 bound in this, the most ornate of the original cloth bindings. The subsequent cloth edition emphasized the blind stamping rather than gilt, an obvious exercise in reducing costs for a volume that was subject to an extremely limited distribution, with only a handful of copies dispersed at any one time. The book was placed on sale at Fowler & Wells on Broadway in New York, and Swaynes on Fulton in Brooklyn, priced at two dollars. Sales were slow and it was later reduced to one dollar, but sales failed to improve and Whitman ended up giving away most copies personally. 


"... Newspaperman, hack writer, philosopher, patriot, remarkable and very individual poet ... 'loafer' (his own word) and enigma, he challenges curiosity as one of the few towering American literary figures" (Bennett).


"... 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" (Printing and the Mind of Man).


REFERENCES

Grolier, American 67; BAL 21395; Feinberg 269; Myerson A2.1.a1; PMM 340; Shay p. 15


Condition as described in catalogue entry.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.