The Gift (an Annual)



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The preface of The Gift for 1836 begins:

“IN offering a new annual to the patronage of the American public, we confidently indulge the hope that its success may be commensurate with tis merits, and more than we have certainly no right to expect. No expense, no pains have been spared in the endeavour to render it in every respect deserving the approbation of its purchasers. If we have failed, it is only from circumstances arising out of the difficulties that are unavoidably connected with all new works of this description.”

The preface is dated “Philadelphia, October 1835,” (p. v.).

 


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Description:

Full Title: The Gift, a Christmas and New Year’s Present for 1836 (where the year is changed appropriately); The Gift, a Christmas, New Year and Birthday Present for 1839 (This title used only 1840 and 1845 issues, with the year changed appropriately)

Issued: For 1836-1837, 1839-1840, 1842-1845. (No issue was printed for 1838 or 1841. Each book was published in the fall and copyrighted in the year prior to the date given in the title, so that The Gift for 1836 was actually issued in October of 1835.) Poe material is in issues for 1836, 1840, 1842, 1843 and 1845. (The number of copies issued is as follows: 1836 - 6,000 copies, with a second edition of 1,000 copies; 1837 - 7,000 copies in standard size, with 500 copies in a larger format; 1839 - 7,000 copies in standard size, with 500 copies in a larger format; 1840 - 7,500 copies; 1842 - 5,000 copies; 1843 - 4,000 copies in standard size, 250 copies in a larger format; 1844 - 3,500 copies; 1845 - 3,500 copies.)

Editor(s): 1836-1840, edited by Miss Eliza Leslie (1787-1858). (Miss Leslie was the sister-in-law of E. L. Carey, one of the publishers.) 1842-1845, edited by Edward L. Carey (1806-1845) and Abraham Hart (1810-1885), the publishers. (A letter from Carey to Charles West Thompson notes, “Our edition of the ‘Gift’ is so small this season that we concluded when Miss Leslie gave it up to emply no editor, but attend to it ourselves. This we have done and the work is now in the hands of the printer . . .” (Letter from E. L. Carey to C. W. Thompson, February 21, 1841, excerpt quoted by Heartman and Carey, p. 68).

Publisher(s): 1836-1839 E. L. Carey & A. Hart; 1840-1845, Carey & Hart

Location: Philadelphia

 


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For 1836: 8mo (6 1/4 in x 4 in). Pages [i]-[xi], [17] - 292. Illustrated by nine steel engravings, including a frontispiece portrait of Fanny Kemble. Binding: full leather, stamped and gilt in various designs. 1836: binding, morraco leather, various colors including red and black, floral pattern border with a center medallion bearing an eagle (bindings signed “Gaskill”). 1840: binding. 1842, full calf, various colors including red, black and tan, all with gilt-stamped ornamentation (bindings signed “S. Moor Binder Phila”). 1843: binding. 1845, generally red calf, with gilt-stamped ornamentation.

 


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There are so many surviving copies of these volumes that a complete listing is impractical and unnecessary. This census records copies of special interest. 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.

Copies inscribed by Poe:

  • The Gift for 1840: E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore. (kept at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Special Collections.) The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. Elizabeth Rebecca Herring (1815-1889), Edgar’s cousin, who lived in Baltimore; 2. Miss Ella L. Warden, a niece of Elizabeth R. Herring; 3. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore (donated on Nov. 11, 1936).
Other copies:
  • The Gift for 1844: Private Collection, Baltimore . (Although this issue does not contain Poe material, a presentation copy from his literary executor, Rufus W. Griswold, is of some interest. This copy is inscribed on the front fly leaf, “To [/] Fanny Jane Searles [/] from [/] Rufus W. Griswold.” Frances Searles was Griswold’s sister-in-law.)
  • Copies of The Gift owned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Private Collection, New York . The Gift for 1836 (inscribed January 1, 1836 from Sarah Delano to her brother, Edward). The Gift for 1840 (inscribed by F. D. R.). The Gift for 1843 (inscribed on an endpaper, “Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hyde Park, 1939”).

 


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  • Faxon, Frederick Winthrop, Literary Annuals and Gift Books, Boston: The Boston Book Company, 1912, pp. 29-30. (Revised, expanded and corrected from a series of articles printed in the Bulletin of Bibliography, 1908-1911. Reprinted by Great Britian: Private Library Association, 1973, as Literary Annuals and Gift Books: A Bibliography 1823-1903, with additional introductory essays by Eleanore Jamieson and Iain Bain) (A bibliographic listing of issues.)
  • Gordon, John D., Edgar Allan Poe: An Exhibition on the Centenary of his Death, New York: The New York Public Library, 1949, p. 8. (Part of the exhibit included a copy from the Berg collection of The Gift for 1836.)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: The Book Farm, 1943, pp. 36, 47-48, 68-69, 88-89.
  • 19th Century Bookshop sale Catalogue, The Poe Catalogue, Baltimore, 1992, pp. 26, 41, 51, 54 and 71. (Several copies of various issues, listed as items 33-34, 79-80, 100-102, 115-116 and 154-155.)
  • Thompson, Ralph, American Literary Annuals & Gift Books, 1825-1865, New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1936, pp. 12, 74-78, 126. (Reprinted, with the addition of an index of microfilm editions, by Archon Books, 1967).

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - The Gift (an annual)