Jun 19, 2014 - Sale 2355

Sale 2355 - Lot 183

Price Realized: $ 40,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 18,000 - $ 25,000
MELVILLE, HERMAN. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. 12mo, original black cloth, blind-stamped with heavy rule frame and publisher's circular device at center of each cover, few minor dimples, 15mm repair along front joint, spine tips with small skillful restorations; white endpapers, usual scattered light foxing, 6-page publisher's advertisements at end, light penciled ownership signature on front free endpaper; preserved in 1/4 morocco gilt-lettered drop-back cloth box. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851

Additional Details

first american edition, first state binding, containing thirty-five passages and the Epilogue omitted from the English edition (published a month earlier). Melville himself famously described his book thus: 'It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers. A Polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it.'

"[Melville's] great book, Moby Dick, was a complete practical failure, misunderstood by the critics and ignored by the public; and in 1853 the Harpers' fire destroyed the plates of all of his books and most of the copies remaining in stock (only about sixty copies survived the fire)... Melville's permanent fame must always rest on the great prose epic of Moby Dick, a book that has no equal in American literature for variety and splendor of style and for depth of feeling" (Dictionary of American Biography XII, pp. 522-526).
one of very few known copies with the rare white endpapers. Blanck notes that "A single copy has been seen with plain white wove endpapers" (p. 164); while 50 years later MacDonnell makes mention of "two copies that have been seen with plain white end papers" (Firsts, June, 2006). BAL 13664; Sadleir, Excursions 229; Grolier, American 60; Johnson, High Spots 57.