SIGNED FIRST EDTION OF THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION OF WHITMAN’S WORK; A REMARKABLE COPY FROM WHITMAN’S PERSONAL LIBRARY.
On this Edition:
“Whitman never lost his passion for joining disparate parts into a whole: it was the basis of his politics, his philosophy, and his bookmaking. He wrote to one acquaintance in 1886 that ‘I think of... bringing out a complete budget of all my writing in one book.’... Horace Traubel was again involved in getting this big book out, and he and Whitman had endless discussions about all aspects of its production."
Whitman was worried about his failing health and terrified that he would die before his “big book” was published. “At one point the poet told Traubel, ‘I am in a hurry—in a hurry: I want to see the book in plates: then I can die satisfied. We will attend to the presswork and binding when we come to it. The main thing is the plates—the plates. Horace, I am on the verge of a final collapse: I look on the future—even tomorrow, next day—with a feeling of the greatest uncertainty. I am anything but secure: let us make the book secure.’ ... Whitman was immersed in every aspect of his bookmaking” and was very pleased with the result, for upon receiving the first copies he declared to Traubel, “it's better—far, far better—than the best I looked for.” (All quotations from Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman).
Whitman’s “big book”– what he thought of as the final monument to his career – was published in only 600 copies “for the author’s own use”, with each copy signed on the title page. This copy is the first issue – without the limitation number added by hand by Horace Traubel. (All copies that were distributed before Feb. 14, 1889 were unnumbered.) In Myerson’s binding A.
On this copy – from Whitman’s own personal library:
With presentation inscription on the front free endpaper from Thomas Biggs Harned:
"To John Lewis Cochran, Esq., with the compliments of Thomas B. Harned, June 11, 1897 / This book is one of a few copies of this edition found among the author's effects after his death and it came into the hands of his literary executors. T.B. Harned.”
“One of Whitman's three literary executors, Thomas Biggs Harned [1851-1921] was a prosperous Philadelphia lawyer and a brother-in-law of Horace Traubel. His twenty-year acquaintance with Whitman involved nearly daily contact during the poet's final years. Harned's well-furnished Camden home was a social center where Whitman dined and drank richly, amused Harned's three children, and met prominent religious and political men. Harned funded the construction of Whitman's mausoleum and co-arranged his funeral, at which he participated as speaker and pallbearer. Later, Harned wrote the introduction to the definitive ten-volume Camden Edition of Whitman's works (1902).” (The Walt Whitman Archive). The “Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman” now resides in the Library of Congress.
The recipient, John Lewis Cochran (1857-1923), was a Philadelphia businessman who later moved to Chicago and became a prominent real estate developer.
Laid in are prints of four photographs (possibly unique prints) of Whitman’s mausoleum in Camden, NJ (funded by Harned). It appears that the man with the long beard in three of the photographs is Richard Maurice Bucke (along with Traubel and Harned, Whitman’s literary executor) and that the shorter man with the mustache is Harned. (The third man in one of the photos remains unidentified.)
Also with a beautiful phototype portrait of Whitman by the Philadelphia photographer Frederick Gutekunst and a broadside printing of “An impromptu criticism on the 900 page Volume ‘the Complete Peoms and Prose of Walt Whitman'” by Bucke laid-in.
Book complete with title page portrait (Linton engraving after G.C. Potter photograph) and engraved portrait of Whitman as a young man (used as frontispiece in the 1855 Leaves of Grass) bound in at page 28, before Leaves of Grass.
Complete Poems & Prose of Walt Whitman, 1855...1888. Authenticated and Personal Book (handled by W.W.) Portraits from Life... Autograph. Philadelphia: Ferguson Bros. & Co., 1888-89. Large octavo, publisher’s three-quarter pebbled cloth over marbled boards with original paper label (Myerson's Binding A). In superb custom box by Natasha Herman of Redbone Bindery matching original binding. Text block and hinges (nearly invisibly) stabilized internally, binding with light edgewear and a few chips to rare original label.
A MAGNIFICENT SIGNED COPY FROM WHITMAN’S OWN LIBRARY OF HIS “BIG BOOK”; A MONUMENT OF HIS LIFE'S WORK.
Price: $22,000 .