Sep 29, 2022 - Sale 2615

Sale 2615 - Lot 2

Price Realized: $ 812
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 400 - $ 600
(ALASKA.) Adolphus W. Greely. The author's working copy with manuscript revisions of his "Handbook of Alaska." Photographic plates. 280 pages. 8vo, unbound signatures; lacking all front matter, frontispiece plate, and "General Map of Alaska"; minor dampstaining; extensive revisions in the author's hand and by inserted typescript notes. [New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1909], with manuscript notes circa 1914

Additional Details

Adolphus W. Greely (1844-1935) is best remembered as the leader of the 1881-1884 Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, which successfully explored Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic, but also resulted in the unpleasant deaths of most of his crew. Greely recovered to command the Army's Signal Corps, and supervised the construction of an elaborate telegraph network in Alaska in the first years of the 20th century. In conjunction with that project, he authored this extensive Handbook of Alaska, which went through four editions in his lifetime, 1909, 1914, 1919, and 1925. Offered here is his personal copy of the 1909 first edition, with his extensive revisions made in preparation for a new edition.

All four editions of the Handbook are available on Hathitrust, allowing for easy comparison. The first three editions seem to have been produced from stereotype plates, with the only substantial differences seen in the title pages and prefaces, and all coming to 280 pages in the main body. The fourth edition is 330 pages.

The text contains dozens of corrections in three forms: handwritten on the original pages, handwritten pieces tipped in, and typewritten pieces tipped or laid in. These revisions appear to have been made to pages from the 1909 first edition, with notes frequently referencing data and events through 1913. Greely's intent was apparently to have these revisions reflected in the 1914 edition, but the main body of text in the second edition was simply reproduced via stereotype plates from the first. The publisher may have decided that a complete resetting of the type was not cost-effective. Not until 1925 was Greely able to publish a complete revision of the text, but the changes seen here are unevenly reflected in the 1925 edition. Page 45 contains a revised partial sentence on a typed slip which is ignored in the 1925 revision, with the chapter moved to later in the book on page 140. Many more substantial revisions can be seen, ranging from added paragraphs to completely revised tables and charts. The table of mountains and volcanoes on page 268 has heavy revisions on a duplicate sheet, while a summary chronology on page 260 has a whole additional typescript and manuscript sheet extending it through 1914. In short, these are edits for an early revision of the text which was never published.

Arctic Bibliography 6112; Smith 3824. Provenance: an old typescript description from an unknown dealer promises "We purchased this from a descendant, directly out of family storage."