THOREAU, HENRY A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.
Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe; New York: George P. Putnam; Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blackiston; London: John Chapman, 1849. First edition, first issue, with a letter laid-in regarding its provenance. Publisher's black cloth gilt lettered on the spine, housed in a cloth slipcase. 7 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches; 413 pp., with the leaf at end advertising Walden. The headcap pulled and with a small loss, the imprint at foot rubbed, a few minor marks but otherwise the binding is quite bright, light foxing to edges and occasionally within, with the ink notation faint stamp to title and endpaper of the New England Mercantile Library.
The true first edition of Thoreau's first book, rare in such condition. In one of the most famous episodes in American publishing history, in 1849 Henry David Thoreau had 1000 sets of sheets of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers printed at his own expense. The book hardly sold and in 1853 the remaining 706 copies were sent back to Thoreau, where they sat in his attic bedroom for the next nine years. On receiving the volumes Thoreau humorously said "I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes, over 700 of which I wrote myself!" In 1862, once Thoreau's reputation as a writer was more established, publishers Ticknor and Fields bought 595 copies directly from Thoreau, inserted a new title, and re-issued the book resulting in the much more common second issue. This copy is from the literature collection formed by Arthur Swann and a letter laid-in written to Swann from an earlier owner regards the disbanding of the Boston Mercantile Library and the placement of the library's books. This copy was sold as part of the collection of Arthur Swann at Parke Bernet, 22 March 1960, lot 403.
C The Julius and Theodore Cohn Library
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