a spectacular array of American literary autographs
(WHITMAN, EMERSON, MELVILLE, et al.). A superb American literary autograph album
Various dates, Mainly 1870s
Large 4to (9 x 12 in.) Fine nineteenth-century black morocco gilt-extra, joints restored. Scores of sheets of heavy card, the inscriptions generally on rectos only, just a few secondary items mounted. A few paper repairs, some foxing, fading. Very good condition. A spectacular display piece.
This magnificent album presents a who’s who of American literature featuring autographs, often with substantial quotations from poems, by American literary giants such as Emerson, Melville, Whitman, Whittier, Lowell, Longfellow, Bryant, and Holmes. The album’s owner had direct access to a wide array of literary figures and considerable powers of persuasion to convince them to write at length in this treasured album.
The album opens with, in order:
William Cullen Bryant. Autograph manuscript quotation from “The Battle Field,” signed and dated December 1876. In his 1968 Grosse Pointe speech Martin Luther King Jr. quoted these lines, saying, “We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right. ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’”
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes with pain,
And dies among his worshippers.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Autograph manuscript quotation from “The Day is Done,” signed and dated 1877.
The night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
Aldrich, Thomas Bailey. Autograph manuscript, the entire text of “Maple Leaves,” signed and dated 1877.
October turned my maple’s leaves to gold;
The most are gone now; here and there one lingers:
Soon these will slip from out the twigs’ weak hold,
Like coins between a dying miser’s fingers.
Whittier, John Greenleaf. Autograph manuscript quotation from “To — on receiving his ‘few verses for a few friend,” signed and dated 1879.
12 lines beginning
Ply, Vanity, Thy Winged Feet …
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Autograph manuscript, the entire text of “Letters,” signed.
Every day brings a ship,
Every ship brings a word;
Well for those who have no fear,
Looking seaward, well assured
That the word the vessel brings
Is the word they wish to hear
Fields, James T. Autograph couplet signed and dated 1877.
Courage! Nothing can withstand
Earnest heart and willing hand
[Fields.] Pencil sketch of a man with a basket of fruit. Its placement in the album opposite the Fields poem suggests that it is by Fields, the noted poet and publisher.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell. Autograph quotation from the beloved “The Chambered Nautilus,” signed and dated 1877.
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
Lowell, James Russell. Autograph quotation headed “My Study,” a substantially altered variant of lines from “Heartsease and Rue,” signed and dated 1877. These lines may have been composed on the spot, drawing from a published work.
Who would not love this book-entombed retreat?
These days that loiter with snow-silent feet?
Truants of Time, tomorrow like today,
That come unadorned and claimless glide away
By shelves that save them in the indulgent Past
Where wrong hath ceased or turned to song at last.
Howells, William Dean. Autograph manuscript, the entire text of “The Sarcastic Fair,” signed.
This month is a honey-blossom
No doubt, as the poet sings;
But between her lips, the petals,
Lurks a cruel bee that stings.
MacDonald, James Wilson. Drawing of the George Armstrong Custer Memorial at West Point, in pencil, signed and dated 1879. Following the Battle of Little Big Horn (1876), Custer was reinterred at West Point in 1877, and funds were raised for a heroic monumental sculpture. MacDonald’s design was chosen and dedicated in 1879. Custer’s widow Libbie objected that she was not consulted, and the statue was removed in 1884 by order of Secretary of War Robert Lincoln. The statue has since disappeared.
Stedman, Edmund Clarence. Autograph manuscript, the entire text of “Custer,” signed and dated 1877.
10 lines beginning:
Thou, wild young wearier, rest
By all the prairie-winds caressed!
Later in the album we find:
Melville, Herman. Signed leaf dated November 3, 1877. Signed on a leaf with an Edgar Fawcett quotation. At this time Melville was living in obscurity as a customs official, having given up professional writing. Few would have thought at this date to seek him out and ask for his autograph in a literary album.
Whitman, Walt. Enormous signature dated “Camden New Jersey March 11 1886.” This is the largest Whitman signature we have ever seen.
Other authors and artists represented in this remarkable album are:
Botta, Anne Lynch. [“Accordance,” the entire poem], signed and dated 1879. Mounted.
Brown, J. Ross. Watercolor of a man smoking, signed on verso.
Butler, William Allen. 8 lines of verse, signed, 1879
Colman, Samuel. “The Tower of the Comares,” proof etching on tissue. Signed and dated 1881.
Curtis, George William. “A Song of Spring,” signed and dated 1878.
Dana, Charles A. Signature dated 1879
Duganne, A. J. H. “Brothers,” signed and dated 1878.
Fairfield, Francis Gerry. “At the Thirty-Eighth Year,” signed and dated 1879.
Fawcett, Edgar. “A Bird of Passage,” signed and dated 1877.
Flash, Henry Lynden. “The Maid I Love,” signed and dated 1879.
Godwin, Parke. Four lines beginning “Small favors are true found,” signed and dated 1879.
Gray, Barry. (pseud. of Robert Barry Coffin). Autograph quotation from “Ships at Sea,” signed and dated 1877.
Greeley, Horace (newspaper editor and publisher). Autograph letter signed to J. B. Sheridan. New York, November 23, 1858.
Homeyard, D. Watercolor of flowers, signed and dated 1881.
Irving, John T. Quotation beginning “Be kind & loving to the living,” signed and dated 1878.
Kimball, Michael B. Long prose quotation concerning “the lfie of the me,” or “Egomet.”
Larcom, Lucy. Autograph quotation from “Better,” signed and dated 1877.
Lathrop, George parsons. Autograph quotation from “Arise, American!,” signed and dated 1877.
Mandeville, Emma L. “Pansies,” 3 stanzas plus a watercolor, signed and dated 1880.
Mathews, Albert. Six lines beginning “What profane heart,” signed and dated 1879.
Mathews, Cornelius. Quotation beginning “I am a conscript, rather than a volunteer” signed and dated 1878.
Miller, Joaquin. “Woman,” signed.
Morgan, James Appleton. [one stanza from “Old Ipswich Town”], signed and dated 1879.
Piatt, John James. Autograph quotation from “The Rose and Roost,” signed and dated 1877.
Pike, Albert. Autograph quotation from “After the Midnight Cometh Morn.” Mounted.
Requier, A. P. Six lines of verse beginning “I sometimes think in my rarer hours,” signed and dated 1877.
Salton, Edgar. “Akosmism,” signed and dated 190- [sic].
Saunders, Frederick. 10 lines beginning “Ambition well might here essay,” signed and dated 1879.
Savage, John. “A Winter Thought,” signed and dated 1877.
Saxe, John G. Quotation from “The Poet’s License,” signed and dated 1878.
Shea, George. “Lake Horicon,” signed and dated 1879.
Smith, Sarah W. Pencil drawing of a angel, signed, with four lines of verse.
Street, Alfred B. “White Lake.” Signed and dated 1879.
Taylor, Bayard. “Proposal,” signed and dated 1878.
Thorburn, Grant (seedsman and author. Autograph letter signed to George Pope Morris. New Haven 16 June 1856. Asking Morris for a copy of the issue of Home Journal in which Thorburn’s article appeared.
Thorpe, T. B. “Ball Mountain in Winter,” long prose quotation from “Tom Owen the Bee Hunter.”
Wallace, William Ross. “The Hand that Rocks the World” (better known as “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”) 16 lines, signed, 1877.
Weed, Thurlow. Signature, dated 1879
Weir, Robert W. Pen and ink drawing of people in a doorway signed with initials.
Weir, Robert W. “The Round of the Waters,” signed.
Welch, Edward V. “Ma Petite Bretonne,” signed and dated 1878.
White, Richard Grant. Autograph quotation from the essay “Three periods of modern music,” signed and dated 1877. “Genius, although conscious of its power is ever ignorant of its tendency, & never works but for its own ends.”
Willis, Nathaniel Parker [and] Morris, George Pope (authors, editors, and publishers). Two autograph letters signed. On the recto Willis has written a letter to his writing and editing partner George Pope Morris, and Willis’s long reply is on the verso. New York, October 25, 1854. The two men worked together for many years as editors and publishers of their own literary journals, most notable the New York Evening Mirror, which was first to publish Poe’s “The Raven.” These letters involve editorial and publishing matters. Mounted.
Winter, William. Autograph quotation from “Death’s Angel,” signed and dated 1879.