Mar 24, 2022 - Sale 2598

Sale 2598 - Lot 5

Price Realized: $ 1,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
(SLAVERY & ABOLITION.) Solomon Northup. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of . . . a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington. 7 plates. [4], 336 pages including 2 publisher's ad leaves. Large 12mo, publisher's cloth, worn; lacking pages 321-322 (the final leaf before the appendix which included the sing "Roaring River"), coming disbound, moderate dampstaining and foxing, moderate wear generally, final leaf detached and worn; early owner's inscriptions on front pastedown. Auburn, NY, 1853

Additional Details

First edition, first state from the first print run of four thousand, of the memoir which formed the basis for the award-winning 2013 film.

This powerful narrative was announced as "now in press" in the 15 April 1853 New York Times, and the editor's preface by David Wilson is dated May 1853. The Buffalo Daily Republic of 6 July 1853 announces that "10,000 copies . . . have been ordered." The Buffalo Commercial of 14 July 1853 announces that it "has this day issued from the press," but the very next day the Buffalo Daily Republic announced that "to-day the long looked for issue of the fifth thousand . . . will commence at Derby, Orton & Mulligan's." The initial print run of 4,000, such as this, was usually issued with two leaves of publisher's advertisements inserted between the front pastedown and front free endpaper.

The earliest printings (like this one) also list three publishers in Auburn, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. By 27 August 1853 the publisher reported in the Commercial that "15,000 copies of this thrilling narrative sold in four weeks." Later printings have been seen headed above the title "Fifth Thousand" (1853) through "Twenty-Ninth Thousand" (1856), with the publishers given in Auburn, Buffalo, and London. See Afro-Americana 7210-7213, and a "Fifth Thousand" copy at the University of North Carolina. See Elizabeth Watts Pope, "Twelve Years a Slave, The Book: Dramatizations, Illustrations, & Editions," on the American Antiquarian Society blog, 28 February 2014.