Item #15197 LEAVES OF GRASS. Walt Whitman.


Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, Year 85 of the States (1860-61) [actually May 1860]. Original blind-stamped orange-brown cloth, beveled.

Third Edition, first impression -- greatly expanded from the two earlier editions (both of which had been self-published). The first edition (Brooklyn 1855) had consisted of only 12 poems; the second (Brooklyn 1856) just 32. This third edition, by a legitimate (if financially shaky) publisher, contains about 156 poems pending upon how they are counted) -- one of the greatest augmentations of LEAVES OF GRASS during its 37-year growth from 1855 to the "deathbed edition" of 1892; with this edition Whitman also began his technique of grouping his poems into "clusters." Among the poems new to this edition are "Starting from Paumanok," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," and the entire sections "Calamus" and "Enfans d'Adam." The latter includes some of Whitman's then-controversial thoughts on sex, such as

A woman waits for me -- she contains all, nothing is lacking,

Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.

This is a copy from the first impression, which consisted of 1000 copies issued in May 1860. This printing is identifiable by the copyright page imprints of both "The Boston Stereotype Foundry" and "George C. Rand & Avery." (There was a second printing issued just six weeks after the first, without those imprints; seven months thereafter, in January 1861, the publisher went bankrupt. In 1879, publisher Richard Worthington bought the third edition plates; he offered Whitman $250 to authenticate another edition and add a few more poems, but Whitman indignantly refused, so during the 1880s Worthington went ahead and issued several unauthorized printings of the 1860-61 edition.)

This copy has the first state of the frontispiece portrait, against a tan background with the engraver's name simply "Schoff." The binding is Blanck's "binding B" (and Myerson's "binding C"), orange-brown zigzag-grain cloth with the globe and sunrise vignettes on the covers (no precedence among the various bindings has been established).

This is a very good-plus copy, with shallow erosion of the top of the spine (and a little at the bottom), and minor darkening of the spine; a few gatherings stand slightly proud, and there is some foxing solely on the frontispiece plate; the original grey endpapers remain intact, despite the considerable heft of this 456-page volume. A nice copy of the first edition of LEAVES OF GRASS costs somewhere in the range of $75,000 - $125,000, and the second about $15,000 - $20,000 -- so the third is the earliest edition that is within reach of most collectors. Myerson A2.3.a1; Blanck 21397. Item #15197

Price: $2,600.00

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