Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1829)


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This volume was published late in 1829. The number of copies printed is not known, though an estimate of 500 or fewer copies is reasonable. According to Poe’s letter to John Allan (Poe to John Allan, November 18, 1829), Poe was been promised 250 copies of the book to sell for his own profit, though it is quite likely that Poe, typical for all his dealings with Allan, may be exaggerating here. Fewer than 30 copies are known to exist today. A facsimile of this book has been printed.

Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1829)

There are at least two known presentation copies: (1) Poe to John Neal (with manuscript changes in “Tamerlane,” and “To — — [”I saw thee on thy bridal day”); (2) Poe to Elizabeth Herring, “For my cousin Elizabeth.  E. A. Poe.” Poe borrowed back the second of these presentation copies to use in preparing The Raven and Other Poems (1845), strongly suggesting that Poe himself had not retained a copy. Poe also appears to have altered the date on the title page of this copy from 1829 to 1820, presumably for his 1845 reading at the Boston Lyceum. The details of this reading are somewhat complicated. Essentially, Poe had been requested to recite a poem at the Boston Lyceum on October 16, 1845. Although he was paid $50 to present a new poem, he was apparently unable to compose one of appropriate merit in the allotted time. Instead, he recited “Al Aaraaf,” renamed as “The Messenger Star of Tycho Brahe.” The response, as Poe probably expected, was mixed. Afterward, he claimed that the whole thing was a hoax to test the cultural integrity of the “Frogpondians.” He further claimed that the poem read had been written when he was only 10 years old. The title page was perhaps altered as substantiation. There is also a secondary presentation copy, from Poe’s sister Rosalie to someone whose name can no longer be read: “Presented to E. [name erased,] by her Friend Rose M. Poe.” The identity of the recipient is not known, although it is likely E. Shannon, It is not known where Rosalie obtained a copy, though it is certainly reasonable that Edgar gave it to her.


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Bibliographic Data:


8vo. (8 in x 5 in). Pages [1]-71. Bindings: Yellow cloth; Paper boards in blue-green, lavender, and tan sprinkled with red. Paper is watermarked “AMIES PHILADA.”


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Census of Copies:

This census is believed to record all known surviving copies of Al Aaraaf, amerlane and Minor Poems . The provenance of each entry is established as authoritatively as possible, given the sketchy and often convoluted bits of information available. In nearly all case, the chain of owners has gaps, especially among the early owners, whose names are generally known only if the owner left an inscription.

  • Columbia University Library, New York (This copy was presented by Rosalie M. Poe to a friend, probably E. Shannon of Oakland.) (Jacob Chester Chamberlain (1860-1905) (sold Feb. 16, 1909 for $2,900); Walter Thomas Wallace (1866-1922) (sold on March 22, 1920 for $1,800); Frank Brewer Bemis (purchased in 1920 from an auction at the Anderson Galleries); Frank J. Hogan; Given to Columbia Library by Solton and Julia Engle
  • Poe Foundation, Richmond, VA (fomerly from the collection of John W. Robertson)
  • Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA (Thomas Jefferson McKee, sold on Nov. 22-23, 1900, item 592, for 1,100); Anderson; Frederick R. Halsey)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (Originally John Hill Hewitt ’t copy; William T. H. Howe)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (Originally Elizabeth Herring’s copy. The date on the title page has been altered to 1820, probably by Poe.) (Herring; Moore, 1894 (sold for $75); Peirce (sold May 5, 1903 for $1,825); Wakeman (purchased November 25, 1909 for $2,900); unknown buyer, 1924, purchased for $2,900 the same price as Wakeman had paid) (This copy has been damaged by smoke.)
  • New York Public Library. (Rebound in blue morocco). (Evert A. Duyckinck copy, stolen in 1931 and recovered in 1934. Harry Gold, a second-hand book dealer on Fourth Avenue, went to prison for receipt of stolen goods.)
  • Beinecke Library, Yale University, Aldis Collection  (This is the copy which was used for the 1933 facsimile, edited by T. O. Mabbott)
  • Beinecke Library, Yale University (duplicate)
  • Chapin Library, Williams College (rebound in blue morocco) (Foote copy) Charles Benjamin Foote (1837-1900) (Foote’s copy was sold on November 23, 1894, item 205, for $150) Foote purchased his copy from a sale of the library of General Winfield Scott. It was rebound by William Matthews.
  • Houghton Library, Harvard University (W. A. White copy) William Augustus White (1843-1927), Brooklyn, NY, specializing in Elizabethan books.
  • Richard Gimbel Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia (Gimbel owned a full copy as well as what are described as “Uncut leaves from Al Aaraaf . . . probably a copy given to Poe by the publisher as part of their general arrangement.” This uncut copy is noted as item 13 in the catalogue of Gimbel’s 1959 exhibit.
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Rebound with several works not related to Poe) (Poe to John Neal) (This copy has several manuscript corrections by Poe)
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Wolf copy; William H. Koester)
  • Regenstein Library, University of Chicago (untrimmed and unbound sheets, measuring 8 1/2 in x 5 1/4 in.) (Locker; John A. Spoor-Thoms & Eron; Chrysler; William Stockhauser copy, sold in 1974 for $40,000)
  • Library of Congress (Western Ontario; Hershold copy)
  • J. K. Lilly Library, Indiana University (J. Dryden Hess; Charles Eliot Goodspeed (purchased about September 1933. Goodspeed offered it to Lilly in 1933 for $3,750, Lilly declined. The book was restored by Riviere and offered again to Lilly); Josiah Kirby Lilly (1893-1966) (purchased in 1934 for $3,000)
  • Alderman Library, University of Virginia (Clifton Waller Barrett copy)
  • Private Collection, New York (Blumenthal; H. Bradley Martin; current owner, 1990) (Listed in the 1992 catalogue of the 19th century bookshop for $120,000)

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Bibliography:

  • American Art Association Auction Catalogue, The Stephen H. Wakeman Collection of Books of Nineteenth Century American Writers , April 1924, item 936. (Includes a small reproduction of the title page, with altered date.)
  • Blanck, Jacob, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Bibliography of American Literature ; volume 7: James Kirke Paulding to Frank Richard Stockton, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983, p. 115. (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship.)
  • Gimbel, Col. Richard, “Quoth the Raven,” An Exhibition of the Work of Edgar Allan Poe,” The Yale University Gazette , XXX, no. 4, April 1959, pp. 138-189. (The two items for Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems are 12 and 13, on page 142. A letter from Rosalie to E. Shannon, suggesting the name in the inscription noted above, is item 8, on page 141.)
  • Gordon, John D., “Edgar Allan Poe: A Catalogue of First Editions, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters from the Berg Collection,” New York: The New York Public Library, 1949, p. 6.
  • Harrison, James Albert, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol I - Biography , New York: T. Y Crowell, 1902.
  • Heartman, Charles F and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe , Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1943, pp. 22-26. (Reprinted, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1977.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Bibliographical Note,” Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems , New York: The Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1932.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Digressions, A: The Herring Al Aaraaf,” The Raven and Other Poems , New York: The Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1942, pp. xxiii-xxv.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe , volume I: Poetry , Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
  • Mouldenhauer, Joseph J., A Descriptive Catalog of Edgar Allan Poe Manuscripts in the Humanities Research Center Library , The University of Texas at Austin, 1973, p. 85, item 102. (Describes the Neal copy.)
  • 19th Century Bookshop sale Catalogue, The Poe Catalogue , Baltimore, 1992, pp. 14-15. (Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems is item 19. The price guide lists it for $120,000.)
  • Quoth the Raven: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Edgar Allan Poe Collection , 1997, pp. 18-20.
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children’s Literature , New York, January 30 and 31, 1990, item 2192.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1829)