The Philadelphia Saturday Museum Woodcut


Woodcut Engraving of Edgar Allan Poe

Woodcut engraving of Edgar Allan Poe from the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843.

This nearly full-length woodcut portrait of Edgar Allan Poe accompanied an article by Poe’s friend, Henry B. Hirst in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum for February 25, 1843. It survives only in two forms, a partial pasted printer’s copy of the article from February 25, 1843 and a complete and apparently unique copy of the full issue, reprinted on March 4, 1843. The former is in the collections of the Poe Foundation of Richmond and the latter in the Library of the University of North Carolina. It is reprinted here, with permission, from the Poe Foundation copy. (In the original, a facsimile of Poe’s ornate “Edgar A. Poe” signature appears beneath the chair.)

This is the first portrait of Poe published during his lifetime. The second is from Graham’s Magazine in 1845.

That Poe was unhappy with the portrait is clear from his letters at the time. To F. W. Thomas, he wrote, “Herewith I forward a Saturday Museum containing a Biography and caricature, both of myself. I am ugly enough God knows, but not quite so bad as that” (Poe to F. W. Thomas, February 25, 1843, Ostrom, Letters, p. 223). To J. R. Lowell, Poe noted that the portrait, “. . . does not convey the faintest idea of my person” (Poe to J. R. Lowell, Oct. 19, 1843, Ostrom, Letters, p. 239).

Michael Deas feels that the woodcut was probably based on an otherwise unrecorded and now missing variant of the “Mc Kee” daguerreotype (Deas, Portraits, p. 16).



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