WHITE-JACKET; or The World in a Man-of-War. Herman Melville.
WHITE-JACKET; or The World in a Man-of-War.

WHITE-JACKET; or The World in a Man-of-War.

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1850. 6 pp undated ads. Original blind-stamped brown cloth.

First American Edition, first printing, first binding -- published about two months after Bentley's London edition. Based on Melville's experience of service on board the man-of-war "United States" in 1843-1844, the narrative covers a voyage from Peru around the Horn to Virginia. Per CGEL:

Melville's story depicts the officers and crew and the life on board a small ship during a long voyage and conveys a vivid picture of the ferocious punishments, the malpractices so easily indulged in, and the degrading conditions of life for the seamen... "What too many seamen are when ashore is very well known; but what some of them become when completely cut off from shore indulgences can hardly be imagined by landsmen." (Melville would next try his hand at a whaling novel...)

This copy is from the first printing, with the Fuller quote on p. iii and the March 1850 "Note" on p. iv, with signature errors on pages [361] and 433, and with only six pages of ads. It is also in the first binding state (of three), with yellow-coated endpapers; as is proper per Blanck, one can see that at least one flyleaf was pasted down underneath the front paste-down. It is in brown cloth, one of four colors employed on the first printing without precedence.

The volume is re-backed, with the original spine cloth laid back down (missing a little cloth at each end); the original yellow-coated endpapers are darkened as usual (and the front one has a 1920 signature), and have narrow strips of matching paper at the gutters. Except for some wear at the lower fore-corners, the outward appearance is not bad; atypically, there is scarcely any foxing on the leaves within. Blanck 13662. Housed in a morocco-backed slipcase with inner chemise. Item #14879

Price: $1,650.00

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