the rare Dresden Water Witch
Cooper, James Fenimore. The Water Witch or The Skimmer of the Seas
Dresden: Walther, 1830
Three volumes. Half titles, colophon leaf in vol. 3 (a little spotting, damp staining in vol 3). Contemporary quarter green morocco gilt and marbled boards (rubbed at extremities). A very good, unrestored set.
Rare true first edition of Cooper’s pirate romance. This nautical novel set in 17th-century New York was first published in a small edition in Dresden, where the author had settled in 1826. London and Philadelphia editions soon followed.
Cooper had attempted to have the work printed in Rome. The tale of the abduction of a woman by the mysterious pirate captain of the Water-Witch, who is actually a woman in disguise, was deemed “wholly unfit” by the Papal censors. The Water Witch was “the only genuine continental first” of all his novels (Spiller and Blackburn). This book, in both its content and its publication history, demonstrates the truly international scope of Cooper’s career.
Provenance: Christie’s New York, 21 September 1994, lot 56.
BAL 3845; Spiller and Blackburn pp. 6-7 and 62.