Very Good +. Item #8886
New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1883. Limited Edition of 300 copies signed by publisher, this being #271. Three quarto volumes in six. Taffin binding in dark brown morocco with gilt lettering and five raised bands to spine. Recently repaired and rebacked with original spine laid down. Profusely extra-illustrated with 119 additional tipped-in plates and 17 letters, mostly signed by figures contemporary or associated with Irving. Armorial bookplate of Rosita de Texada to front pastedown of each volume.
Boards worn along extremities with brief exposure. Some general scuffing. Bindings sound and pages clean and unmarked.
Highlights of extra-illustrated material include:
Vol. I, Part I:
- Short note unsigned regarding "John Millers account for postages for the legation," dated 1845. Irving corresponded with a John Miller in 1846, though we have been unable to connect the two any further.
- Autograph letter signed from British painter David Wilkie to Washington Irving in which he apologizes for telling the Duke of Sussex that Irving and "the American Minister" had both gone when he asked for a meeting with them. Wilkie mentions his own "sense of inferiority when such great personages meet," for having, apparently, prevented the meeting.
Wilkie corresponded with Irving throughout Irving's time in Spain while he was researching the life of Christopher Columbus. Wilkie's painting, "Washington Irving in the Archives of Seville" commemorated Irving's project.
- Cover of envelope from James Madison to James Madison Rix, possibly written in the former President's hand. Rix had written Madison a letter requesting a signature, and Madison's response is held by the Library of Congress. Stamp of Orange, VA, location of Montpelier, to front.
Vol. I, Part II:
- Typed letter signed from Thomas Campbell, the Scottish poet, to "My dear Williams," in which the poet complains of being "landlock'd by the rheumatism from all my friends." Irving wrote an introductory biographical sketch of Campbell for a volume of his poetry published in the U.S.
- Autograph letter signed by J. Murray, presumably the publisher, addressed to "Dear Sirs," and concerning the loan of some books.
- Autograph letter signed from Irish poet Thomas Moore. Dated Feb. 2nd, 1839 with no recipient noted. Note concerns a payment to a William Moore, possibly the contemporaneous gun manufacturer.
- Autograph letter signed from historian George Bancroft to newspaperman Benjamin Perley Poore. Dated May 14, 1866, and concerns publication of an oration, presumably Bancroft's Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Abraham Lincoln, a special eulogy Bancroft gave in front of Congress and was printed that year.
Vol. II, Part I:
- 2 pp. autograph letter signed dated Oct. 3, 1831, from English poet Samuel Rogers to publisher and fellow poet Edward Moxon. Rogers had loaned Moxon 500 pounds in 1830 to start his publishing firm, which would go on to publish William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley. In the short note, Rogers urges Moxon to come visit him and his sister at Ramsgate and get a little sea air.
- Autograph letter signed and dated September 7th, 1835, from Scottish poet Allan Cunningham to a John Leighton, printer. The poet discusses revisions of an upcoming publication, asking his thoughts to be sent to a Mr. Cochrane. Presumably concerns The Life of Robert Burns, published by James Cochrane & Co. that same year.
- Autograph letter signed dated "11, 1836 (?)" from Martin Van Buren presumably to General Lewis Cass. Written when Van Buren was Vice President and, possibly, while the election was ongoing. Van Buren urges the General to make the acquaintance of a Mr. Allyne Otis of Boston, grandson Samuel Allyne Otis, the first Secretary of the United States Senate. Cass himself would go on to represent Michigan as United States Senator and serve under James Buchanan as Secretary of State.
Vol. II, Part II:
- Short note from a Bryant following a plate of William Cullen Bryant, the American poet.
- Unsigned autograph letter from Henry Clay to Count Menou regarding the ship Appollo [sic], the same ship covered in the Supreme Court case The Appollon, 22 U.S. 362 the following year. Clay was at the time Speaker of the House of Representatives and in the letter he mentions "a very great outrage was committed against the French flag," and hopes to devote his attention to the case at the next term of the Supreme Court. Count Menou was Ambassador to the United States at the time, serving while Viscount de Chateaubriand was Minister of Foreign Affairs. This letter was written out for a translator, as Clay did not know French. The "copy" of this original is now held at Library of Congress with the papers of Count Menou.
- Two-page autograph letter signed and dated February 6, 1863, from United States Senator Edward Everett to an unnamed enthusiastic collector of autographs. Everett mentions showing the collection to "Mr. McClellan and the General were much gratified with this inspection," presumably George B. McClellan, though he had been relieved as General-in-Chief the previous year. Later that year Everett would give a two-hour speech at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, immediately preceding President Lincoln.
- Brief one-page autograph letter signed from Fitz-Greene Halleck, poet and member of the Knickerbocker Group, to an R.P. Golling thanking him for his request for his autograph.
- One-page autograph letter signed from Daniel Webster to a Mr. Donaldson, requesting he join his wife and himself and a few friends for dinner. Dated February, 1851, while Webster was Secretary of State and one year before he died.
Vol. III, Part I:
- Autograph letter signed regarding a legal dispute involving Joseph and William Wood of Songton, signed "By Her Majesty's Command, HW Munce (?)" and with Queen Victoria's signature and royal seal to header.
Vol. III, Part II:
- One-page autograph letter signed from George Washington Parke Custis of Arlington to Joseph Janney of Alexandria, inquiring about the possibility of a loan. Letter is dated 1823 or 1833 and addressed from Custis' Arlington estate. Custis' father was the step-son of George Washington and his daughter married Robert E. Lee. Irving had visited Custis in Arlington while researching his biography of the President.
All together the volumes are a copiously extra-illustrated set of plates and letters centering around figures important in both Irving's life and the intellectual spirit of the time.