Item #15359 "EXCELSIOR." Bret Harte.


Presented by Enoch Morgan's Sons Co., New York. Five Points NY: Donaldson Brothers, n.d. [1877]. Original light blue wrappers decorated in black and sepia.

First Edition of this illustrated poem -- quite possibly an earlier state than either of those documented by Blanck. Written as hack-work at a time when Harte badly needed cash, this is his parody of Longfellow's 1842 poem "Excelsior" -- with numerous minor changes, but with the word "Sapolio" replacing Longfellow's word "Excelsior". This was issued as an advertisement for Sapolio Soap -- said to be the first time a known author used his talents for the sake of an advertisement. The poem is a tale of a youth who comes to town with a "Sapolio" stencil and proceeds to ink the word onto everyone's fences, all the rocks, and even on the nearby mountain peak -- curiously to the dismay of nobody.

Copies were issued both in mauve cloth and in these light blue wrappers. Blanck identifies two printings, but this copy varies from both -- and just possibly might be earlier than either...

Points include: (a) the Donaldson imprint IS present on the front wrapper (Blanck's 1st); (b) at the bottom of the inside front wrapper is neither "10 cents per cake" (1st) nor "For Sale by All Grocers" (2nd), but instead -- at the bottom of the REAR inside wrapper -- it reads "Price never over 10 cents per cake"; (c) "With 'Mustang Liniment'" appears on p. [7] (1st); (d) the outside rear wrapper lists only 10 "depots" (Blanck's 1st state lists 14, and the 2nd lists 18, so this is earlier than either); (e) the text is in roman (1st), not italic (2nd) font. In short, all of the points are either Blanck's first state (a+c+e), are earlier than Blanck's first state (d), or are not even cited by Blanck (b+d).

This is a fine copy, unusually clean, with just a tiny bit of wear at the delicate spine. Blanck 7293. Item #15359

Price: $375.00

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