Rare Poetry Books & First-Edition Poetry Books for Sale Online
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“AMERICA’S SECOND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE”: RARE FIRST EDITION OF WALT WHITMAN’S LEAVES OF GRASS, THE MOST IMPORTANT AND INFLUENTIAL VOLUME OF AMERICAN POETRY
Brooklyn, New York: For the author by Andrew & James Rome 1855.
First edition of the most important volume in American poetry, which Whitman personally financed, supervised and even in some sections hand-set the type for the small printing of 795 copies. Small folio, frontispiece engraved portrait of the author by Hollyer after the daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison, mounted opposite the title, bound in three quarters morocco over marbled boards by MacDonald, New York, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, marbled endpapers. In near fine condition. Housed in a custom full morocco clamshell chemise.
"unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!": Rare Mimeographed Sheets of The Howl Produced for its First Reading. Preceding the First Edition and signed by Ginsberg and five others present at the Six Gallery in October of 1955
Two sheets from an exceptionally rare privately produced mimeographed printing of Howl, preceding the first edition. One of 25 copies printed on rectos only in purple ink typed by the poet Robert Creeley and printed by Marthe Rexroth at S.F State, where she was a secretary, for the famous Six Gallery reading (also known as Six Angels in the Same Performance). This event, which took place at 3110 Fillmore Street in San Francisco on October 7, 1955 was the first important public poetry exhibition heralding the West Coast literary revolution of the Beat Generation. At the reading, five talented young poets—Allen Ginsberg, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen presented some of their latest works. They were introduced by Kenneth Rexroth, who was a kind of literary father-figure for the younger poets. It was at this reading that Allen Ginsberg performed the piece in public, which had been advertised by a postcard proclaiming: “Remarkable collection of angels all gathered at once in the same spot. Wine, music, dancing girls, serious poetry, free satori.” The exuberant audience included Neal Cassady, who passed around the wine jug and a collection plate and a drunken Jack Kerouac, who refused to read his own work but cheered the other poets on, and later wrote an account in his novel The Dharma Bums. He fictionalized the event with a description of circulating gallon jugs of California burgundy among the increasingly raucous crowd, “getting them all piffed so that by eleven o’clock when Alvah Goldbrook (Ginsberg’s stand-in in the novel) was reading his wailing poem ‘Wail’ (‘Howl’) drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’” Also in attendance was Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who telegrammed Ginsberg the following day offering to publish his work, saying ” I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get the manuscript?” He published in 1956 through his City Lights Press, but customs agents seized Howl and Other Poems when it arrived from its London-based printer on grounds that it was indecent and obscene. Ferlinghetti and his store manager Shigeyoshi Murao were acquitted of the obscenity charges in October 1957. The title page is signed by Allen Ginsberg, with the signature and a note by Marthe Rexroth, which reads, “I cranked the ditto master at S F State the first time around -and! was at the reading.” On the verso of the title, McClure has written the lengthy note, “This first long poem of Allen’s was read at the Six Gallery in San Francisco in October 1955. I was 22 years old and gave my first reading also that night. I read a poem titled FOR THE DEATHS OF 100 WHALES and other poems of nature and new consciousness. Our co-readers that night were Whalen, Snyder, & Lamantia. Kenneth Rexroth was M.C. I met Jack Kerouac that night. The group of us – minus Lamantia – read again in Berkeley, March 1956, on a rainy evening. It was a fine evening for poetry and I remember my pleasure in Allen’s comic ‘America’. I read mostly from a huge notebook of experimental poems of consciousness. Michael McClure.” On the dedication page are the signatures of Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and an inscription by David Meltzer: ” When Allen first read Kaddish in SF, I read too. I was 22.” Double matted and framed, the entire piece measures 20 inches by 26 inches, with an opening in the back of the frame to view McClure’s statement. Only one other similar printing of this edition has surfaced, which fetched $118,750 at auction in 2013, although this copy did include all of the pages. An exceptionally rare item of this important work and cornerstone to American thought and culture.
The Constable Edition of The Works of Shakespeare; one of only 1,000 copies bound by BaynTun in cosway-style binding and elaborately illustrated with original watercolors
Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable; Grant Richards 1903-1904.
The Constable edition of the works of Shakespeare. Folio, ten volumes. Elaborately bound in full blue morocco by Bayntun Riviere in Cosway-style binding with hand painted portrait medallions under glass to the front panel of each volume, gilt titles to the spine, gilt tooling to the spine and front panel, fleuron cornerpiece designs within gilt frames, raised gilt bands, inner dentelles, top edge gilt, silk endleaves, ribbon bound in. Illustrated with 479 tissue-guarded plates and 531 original illustrations, 525 of which are original watercolors. One of only 1,000 copies, this is number 149. Volume X is signed by Grant Richards, who produced that volume only, on the limitation page. Each volume contains four plays, with the exception of volume ten which contains two plays followed by Shakespeare’s narrative poems and sonnets. In near fine condition. Exceptionally rare and desirable. A stunning set.
"My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body": Scarce first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales; including the first appearance of The Gold-Bug, The Black Cat, The Fall of The House of Usher, and The Purloined Letter
New York: Wiley and Putnam 1845.
First edition, first printing with the imprints of T. B. Smith and H. Ludwig on the copyright page of one of the most important works in the history of American literature. Several of the dozen stories in this remarkable collection are among the best known in fiction including The Gold-Bug, The Black Cat, The Fall of The House of Usher, and The Purloined Letter. Octavo, bound in three quarters contemporary calf over marbled boards. Housed in a custom clamshell and chemise box. In excellent condition with light browning to the text. BAL 16146; Grolier, 100 American, 55; Heartman and Canny, pp. 90-97; Yale/Gimbel 61. One of the nicest examples we have seen of this scarce highspot of American literature.
"When you come to observe faithfully the changes of each humblest plant, you find that each has sooner or later its peculiar autumnal tint, or tints": The Manuscript Edition of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau; In the Original Binding
Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company 1906.
The manuscript edition of the writings of Henry David Thoreau. With the original manuscript sheet by Thoreau from his journal tipped-in to volume 1. The two page manuscript fragment comprises 58 lines from “Autumnal Tints,” in altered form, published in the Atlantic Monthly, October 1862, and collected in Excursions the following year. The fragment concludes with the line containing the title phrase: “When you come to observe faithfully the changes of each humblest plant, you find that each has sooner or later its peculiar autumnal tint, or tints […].” Octavo, 20 volumes. Bound in the publisher’s three-quarter green morocco over marbled boards, spine elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, raised bands, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. Signed by the publisher. Illustrated in each volume with a photograph of flowers and a hand-colored scenes used as frontispieces and additional plates inserted throughout. In fine condition without wear.
"To the few who love me and whom I love – to those who seek rather than to those who think – to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities – I offer this book of truths" : Rare first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Magnum Opus, Eureka, One of only 500 copies
New York: George P. Putnam 1848.
First edition, first issue. Duodecimo, original publishers blind stamped black cloth with gilt lettering to the spine. First issue, without the review for Eurkea on page 2 of the 16 page catalogue at the end of the book, but reads simply: “Poe. — Eureka, A Prose Poem: Or the Physical and Metaphysical Universe. By Edgar A. Poe, Esq.” In very good condition, with some light rubbing to the extremities, contemporary inscription to the front free endpaper. Housed in a custom cloth box. A nice, bright example of this rare and important text.
Montreal: McGill Poetry Series by Contact Press 1956.
First edition of Cohen’s first book, which explores philosophy, sexuality, death, a world of violent contrasts that would define his future literary and musical careers. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by Leonard Cohen on the front free endpaper in a contemporary hand. With five full-page line illustrations by Freda Guttman. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. An excellent example of this rare first book, which reportedly, fewer than 400 copies of the first edition were printed (Nadel, 45).
“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light": First Edition of Dylan Thomas' In Country Sleep; Signed by Him
New York: New Directions 1952.
First edition of this collection of poems, including the first book appearance of “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Octavo, original cloth. Signed and dated by the author in the year of publication on the front free endpaper, “Dylan Thomas 1952.” Fine in a very good dust jacket. Rare and desirable signed as Thomas passed away one year after the publication.
"O come, then, quickly come! We are budding, we are blowing; And the wind that we perfume Sings a tune that's worth the knowing": First Edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poems; Inscribed by Him
Boston: James Munroe & Co 1847.
First edition with four pages of publisher’s ads dated January 1, 1847 bound before the title of this collection of poems. Octavo, bound in publisher’s boards covered in coated ivory-colored paper, with publisher’s label on spine. Inscribed by the author in the year of publication, “Elizabeth Burgess with the best wishes of R.W.E. 1 Jan. 1847.” In very good condition with some wear to the binding. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare and desirable signed and inscribed by Emerson in the year of publication.
"I hope that this book ain't so silly and that it will always remain in the cas[s]a": First Edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, Signed by Shel Silverstein; Inscribed to the Children of His Editor
New York: Harper & Row, Publishers 1974.
First edition of the author’s first collection of children’s poetry. Stated first edition on the copyright page. Small quarto, original brown cloth, illustrated. Association copy, inscribed by Shel Silverstein with an original poem on the front free endpapers to the children of his editor and publicist William Cole, “For Alex and Rossa and Billy, I hope that this book ain’t so silly and that it will always remain in the cas[s]a (The superfluous ‘s’ has been scribbled out with footnote “Bill Cole’s Incessant Editorial Meddling”) of Billy and Alex Rossa (Not a bad rhyme for three such difficult names and if you don’t read Spanish, Learn it!) Love, Shel Silverstein.” American editor and anthologist William Rossa Cole edited over 50 anthologies of verse for children and adults throughout his career which included tenures at Knopf, Simon & Schuster and Viking, where he had his own imprint. He is thanked by Silverstein at the end of Where the Sidewalk Ends “for his continued encouragement” and many of Silverstein’s poems made their first appearance at Cole’s solicitation. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional association copy.
“Do anything, but let it produce joy": RARE SECOND EDITION OF WALT WHITMAN’S LEAVES OF GRASS; ONE OF ONE THOUSAND COPIES
Brooklyn, New York: Fowler and Wells 1856.
Rare second edition, one of a 1000 copies of the most important volume in American poetry, with an additional twenty poems not found in the first edition as well as a new section of correspondence and reviews entitled “Leaves-droppings” that begins with the famous letter from Emerson containing the salutation “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” Small octavo, original green cloth. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Walt Whitman. Bookplate of Barrett Wendell to the inside panel. Barrett was an American academic and a trustee of the Boston Athenaeum, a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and he was also elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers. Bookplate of William Whitwell Greenough. Greenough was a Boston merchant and politician, trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1856-1888, President of the Board of Trustees, 1866-1888. In very good condition with some toning to the spine and overall light wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. A nice example of this rarity with noted provenance.
First Editions of Each Book in Andrew Lang's Fairy Books; Each Bound Uniformly by Sangorski and Sutcliffe
The Fairy Books: Blue (1889); Red (1890); Green (1892); Yellow (1894); Pink; (1897); Grey (1900); Violet (1901); Crimson (1903); Brown (1904); Orange (1906); Olive (1907); Lilac (1910) [with The Blue Poetry Book (1891); The True Story Book (1893); The Red True Story Book (1895); The Animal Story Book (1896); The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1898); The Red Book of Animal Stories (1899); The Book of Romance (1902); The Red Romance Book (1905)].
London: Longmans, Green & Company 1889-1910.
First editions of each volume in Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books: Blue (1889); Red (1890); Green (1892); Yellow (1894); Pink; (1897); Grey (1900); Violet (1901); Crimson (1903); Brown (1904); Orange (1906); Olive (1907); Lilac (1910) (12 volumes), along with eight of his other works: The Blue Poetry Book (1891); The True Story Book (1893); The Red True Story Book (1895); The Animal Story Book (1896); The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1898); The Red Book of Animal Stories (1899); The Book of Romance (1902); The Red Romance Book (1905). Bound in full leather by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, raised bands, gilt ruled to the front and rear panels, each volume with a different motif to the front and rear panel, all edges gilt, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, book marks. Each volume bound with the original cloth spine and front panel. With numerous illustrations by H. J. Ford. In near fine condition with a few volumes with some light cracking at the hinges. An exceptional set bound by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.
"Who Is Content Only With The Right Word": First Edition of Death of a Naturalist; Inscribed by Seamus Heaney to his Aunt
London: Faber and Faber 1966.
First edition of Heaney’s first major published volume. Octavo, original green cloth with titles to the spine in gilt. Association copy, inscribed by the author to his aunt in a contemporary hand, “For Aunt Annie: who is content only with the right word. Love, Seamus.” Additionally signed by Heaney in full on the title page. Fine in very good dust jacket with sunning to the pink portion of the spine and some overall wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Association copies of this caliber seldom enter the market.
Buenos Aires: Sur 1928.
First edition of Garcia Lorca’s classic work. Octavo, bound in three quarters calf over marbled boards. Signed on the title page by Federico Garcia Lorca, who has drawn a face next to his signature. Books signed by Garcia Lorca are exceedingly rare, as he was killed in 1936. In very good condition with a contemporary bookplate of Fernando Ortiz to the pastedown with light rubbing. Ortiz was a Cuban essayist, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist and scholar of Afro-Cuban culture. A very nice example.
"For the children, they mark, and the children, they know the place where the sidewalk ends": Rare First Edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, Signed by Shel Silverstein
New York: Harper & Row 1974.
First edition of the author’s first collection of children’s poetry. Stated first edition on the copyright page. Small quarto, original brown cloth, illustrated. Signed by Shel Silverstein on the half-title page. Contemporary inscription to the front free endpaper, near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare and desirable, especially signed.
"The revolutionary manifesto of the romantic poets”: First Edition of Lyrical Ballads, with Other Poems; containing the first appearance of William Wordsworth's famous Preface defining his theory of poetry
London: Printed for T.N. Longman and O. Rees 1800.
First complete edition of the manifesto for the English romantic movement containing the first appearance of Wordsworth’s landmark preface defining his theory of poetry. Small octavos, two volumes bound in full contemporary tree calf with gilt titles and tooling to the spine with red and green morocco spine labels lettered in gilt, gilt ruling to the front and rear panels, gilt turn-ins and inner dentelles, marbled endpapers. In near fine condition. From the Brother Julian F.S.C. Collection with bookplates to the pastedown of each volume. Housed in a custom cloth chemise case and half morocco clamshell box.