Poems by Edgar A. Poe (1831)


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This volume was issued in the Spring, probably in April, of 1831. It apparently sold for 75 cents.

Poems, by Edgar A. Poe (1831)

The number of copies printed is uncertain, by probably did not exceed 500-1,000. There are at least two known presentation copies: (1) Poe to John Neal, “Mr. John Neal, with the author’s best wishes” (on fly-leaf); (2) Poe to Theodore S. Fay, the “Young” copy.


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Bibliographic Data:

12mo. (6 1/8 in x 3 7/8 in or 6 3/4 in x 3 3/4 in). Pages [1]-124. Bindings: Olive-green or tan linen. (Heartman and Canny also note gray and black cloth bindings.) State “A” has “THE END” at the bottom of page 124, missing from state “B”. (On page 83, the title of the poem is misspelled “Al Araaf”; the footnote on page 88 does not identify the chaper and verse (chapter 5, verse 8); page 105 is incorrectly numbered 150. Heartman and Canny note that some copies have corrections for all of these errors.)


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Census of Copies:

This census records about half of the known surviving copies of 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.

  • Susan Jaffe Tane, private collector, New York. (Presentation copy from Poe to John Neal. Rebound with W. G. Simm’s Vision of Cortes.) The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. John Neal (1793-1876), Portland, Maine; 2. Richard Henry Stoddard (1825-1903), New York editor and critic (with an autograph receipt from Stoddard); 3. R. W. Gredes (purchased through Mr. Coombes, September 29, 1880 for $50.); 4. Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-1895), English Poet (with Mr. Locker-Lampson’s bookplate); 5. Elihu Dwight Church (1835-1908), New York (purchased in 1905); 6. Stephen H. Wakeman (1859-1924), New York; 7. Mrs. Florence Meyer Blumenthal (1875-1930) of Paris (purchased April 28-29, 1924, lot 935 for $500. In April 1931, George Blumenthal offered the collection for sale through A. S. W. Rosenbach, but withdrew it); 8. Gabriel Wells, New York bookseller, (purchased in March or April 1933 along with the Blumenthal’s entire collection, paying $50,000 for all items); 9. H. Bradley Martin (1906-1988) (Martin purchased the entire collection of Poe material offered by Wells about 1940) (a leaf of notes, written by Martin, also accompanies the book); 10. John McGuigan (purchased January 30-31, 1990 at Sotheby auction in New York). 11. Susan Jaffe Tane, private collector, New York (purchased from Biblioctopus, Century City, CA.)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (Theodore S. Fay (1807-1898) copy.) (Fay to David Graham, Jr. (1808-1852), New York lawyer; Gouveneur Kemble; Jacob Chester Chamberlain (sold Feb. 16, 1909 for $410); Owen D. Young; Albert Ashton Berg (1872-1950)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (duplicate) (Berg-Howe copy)
  • Poe Foundation, Richmond, VA
  • Harvard College Library (acquisition stamped December 20, 1917. Name of early owner inscribed on reverse of title page “W. A. White,” probably William Augustus White (1843-1927). Perhaps donated by White to Harvard. The book is stamped on the back of the title page “Harvard College Library, Dec. 20 1917.”  (This is the copy which was used for the 1936 facsimile, edited by K. Campbell.)
  • University of Texas. (Paul Hyde Bonner, sold October 1931, perhaps through New York dealer Harry Stone, for around $7,000; William H. Koester)
  • Josiah Kirby Lilly (1893-1966) (purchased from Charles E. Goodspeed in 1930) (This copy bears an inscription date of December 1831).
  • University of Texas (another copy);  prior owners: Charles Benjamin Foote (1837-1900); John H. Wrenn (1833-1911), Chicago (purchased at the Foote sale on November 23, 1894, item 206, for $55. Foote purchased his copy from a sale of the library of General Winfield Scott.) (The Wrenn library found a new home in Austin, TX in 1918) One page is apparently supplied in facsimile.
  • unknown, George Brinkley (sold in 1886 for $150); Thomas Jefferson McKee (sold on Nov. 22-23, 1900, item 593, for $360); Frederic Robert Halsey; Henry E. Huntington; A. Edward Newton (sold in 1941).
  • Gimbel Collection. Philadelphia Free Public Library.
  • West Point (a copy obtained in June 1966 through well-known book dealer John Fleming)
  • R. Eden Martin  (Daniel Powers Whiting, 1831. Although Whiting was a cadet, he apparently did not contribute to the subscription for the Poems, based on the pay records at West Point. On the title page, below Poe’s name, Whiting wrote: “a premature graduate from U. S. M. A. of last Jan. Testimony (?) of insatiable ambition, as this book will show, but of what merit, reader, judge for yourself.” Sending the book to his parents, Whiting added a note on an inside page: “Mr. and Mrs. Whiting” with a “greeting” and the note: “This thing may afford you some amusement. It was a present to me, but the price was ten shillings.”) Mr. Martin purchased the book from a Sotheby’s auction in 1997.
  • Library of Congress (presumably the copy deposited for copyright).
  • American Antiquarian Society
  • Brown University

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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 935. (Briefly describes the Neal copy and includes a small reproduction of the title page, although the reproduction displays no special markings. 
  • 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 (item 16125). (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship.)
  • Campbell, Killis, “Bibliographical Note,” Poems, New York: The Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1936.
  • 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, pp. 7-8.
  • Heartman, Charles F., “A Remarkable Addition to the Poe Census,” American Book Collector, vol. III, no. 4, April 1933, 3:246
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1940, pp. 22-26.
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1943 (revised edition), pp. 32-36. (Reprinted, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1977.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume I: Poetry, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
  • Martin, R. Eden, “Collecting Poe,” Caxtonian (Chicago, IL), vol. XII, no. 6, June 2004, pp. 1, 3-15
  • Quoth the Raven: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Edgar Allan Poe Collection, 1997, pp. 18-20.
  • Randall, David A., The J. K. Lilly Collection of Edgar Allan Poe: An Account of Its Formation, Indiana: The Lilly Library, 1964, pp. 22-26. (This book carries, as a frontispiece, a supposed portrait of Poe which has since been shown not to be Poe at all. The resemblance, it must be admitted, is striking.)
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children’s Literature, New York, January 30 and 31, 1990, item 2193.
  • Tane, Susan Jaffe and Gabriel Mckee, Evermore: The Persistence of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: The Golier Club, 2014, item 51.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Poems by Edgar A. Poe (1831)