Life of George Washington (Five Volumes, all First States of First Printings of First Editions)
New York: G.P. Putnam and Company, 1855-1859. Very Good. Item #10125
New York: G.P. Putnam and Company, 1855-1859. All Firsts; all Octavo (24.5x16.5x4cm); see volume specifics below for page count, illustration details, and condition. This is a complete set, married by the previous owner. All in original publisher’s purple-black cloth (with the exception of the spine of Vol I); blind stamped panel borders with frames and central laurel wreaths. Gilt titling and volume numbers on spine.
All called-for images present: the overall set contains 12 maps in total; 5 engraved frontispieces; 1 engraved image of Washington’s tomb; 1 silhouette; 1 engraved image of Houdon’s Washington statue; and 1 facsimile letter. All original tissue guards are in place. All points noted by BAL and Howes, down to commas, misnumeration, and signature oddities, have been verified and are present. [BAL 10192; Howes I84]
The volumes vary somewhat in preservation; we tally up the overall condition as Very Good. All bindings are in original cloth with the exception of the new back on Vol I; the spine cloth of Vol. IV has been repaired at some ancient date; spine crowns and feet are not visually frayed but have been brittled by age and so will be delicate; spines and panels have been sunned to various degrees, shown in our photograph. All joints and hinges are sound. Within the volumes, foxing is most prevalent on images and tissue guards; the text pages are nearly free of foxing. Previous owners’ signatures appear on the front free endpapers of vols. I and III.
Vol I 1855, First Edition, First Printing; xvi + 504pp. Frontispiece of Washington; 3 maps, one a tipped-in doublespread. Volume has been rebacked; original panel cloth and panels remain. Rebacking probably due to earlier moisture which has stained the opening leaves, the frontispiece, and the final leaves and rear endpapers, without, however, affecting the solidity of the pages or warping or marring the textblock.
Vol II 1855, First Edition, First Printing; xii + 518pp + errata page. Frontispiece of Washington; 3 maps, one a tipped-in doublespread.
Vol III 1856, First Edition, First Printing, First State; xiv + 523pp + publisher’s and author’s insert about continuation of the series. Frontispiece of Washington; engraving of Houdon statue; 4 maps, one a tipped-in doublespread.
Vol IV 1857, First Edition, First Printing, BAL “State A”; x + 518pp. Frontispiece of Martha Washington; George Washington silhouette; 2 maps.
Vol V 1859, First Edition, First Printing; xii + 456pp, including appendices and index. Frontispiece of Washington; additional preliminary engraving of Washington’s tomb; bifold facsimile letter tipped in.
This is a complete set of Washington Irving’s widely revered life of Washington as it first appeared—a compendium of valuable historical information and a source of much appealing, if fantastic, Washington mythology. Irving was, after all, a noted teller of tall tales.