Poems by Edgar A. Poe (1831)


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.


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.)


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), purchased in 1860 “for a small sum” (see Charlotte News for December 22, 1906, p. 13; probably the copy listed as item 46 in Bangs, Merwin & Co. catalog of Sept. 2-5, 1861, indicated only as from a “Choice Private Library”); 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.)
  • Alderman Library, University of Virginia (gift of Clifton Waller Barrett, about April 19, 1952)
  • 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 (1786-1875); Jacob Chester Chamberlain (1860-1905) (sold Feb. 16, 1909 for $410); Owen D. Young (1874-1962); Albert Ashton Berg (1872-1950) (Dr. Berg paid Young half the value of his collection, and they collectively donated the material to the NYPL on May 8, 1941.) (The Month at Goodspeed’s, November 1930, p. 64, mistakenly gives the name of Gourveneur Kimble)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (duplicate) (Berg-Howe copy) (owned by William Thomas Hildrup Howe (1874-1939) by 1932. Dr. Berg purchased Howe’s collection in September 1940, and donated his own collection to the NYPL in October 1940.)
  • Poe Foundation, Richmond, VA (orignially owned by John Pendleton Hardin (1810-1842, West Point Class of 1832), and his father, Ben Hardin, Jr. (1784-1852), presented by Ben Hardin to someone unspecified; Jacob Chester Chamberlain (1860-1905) (sold at the auction of his library, Anderson Auction, February 16, 1909, item 706, for $315; Walter Thomas Wallace (1866-1922) of South Orange, New Jersey (sold at auction, American Art Galleries, March 22-25, 1920, item 1029, for $140); John Wooster Robertson (1856-1941) (apparently purchased through the assistance of book dealer Walter Martin Hill) donated to the Poe Museum by Robertson in 1927. (This copy bears a note, presumably by Ben Hardin, “This book is a damn cheat. All that fills 124 pages could have been compiled in 36.” A comment below it, apparently in another hand, reads “Lie” and a note further below that: “Calliope is a cheat any how —” Calliope was the name of the Greek muse of epic poetry, a classical reference that Poe might well have appreciated.) (One corner of three pages have been clipped)
  • 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) (H&C, 1941, state that it was sold at auction by American Art. Association, on February 16, 1934)
  • 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, and the volume has been rebound in morocco by Matthews, and in a slip case.
  • Josiah Kirby Lilly (1893-1966) (purchased from Charles E. Goodspeed in 1930 for $3,700) (This copy bears an inscription date of December 1831, and the name “Edger [sic] A. Poe” written at the bottom of page 64, almost certainly not in Poe’s own hand. This copy also lacks a blank fly leaf, but is bound in the original cloth. The lower part of the blank margins has a slight stain.)
  • American Antiquarian Society. George Brinley (1817-1875), Hartford, CT (sold in 1886 for $150); Thomas Jefferson McKee (1840-1899) (sold on Nov. 22-23, 1900, item 593, for $360); Frederic Robert Halsey (1847-1918); Henry Edwards Huntington (1850-1827) (sold by Anderson Galleries, February 27, 1917); Alfred Edward Newton (1864-1940) (sold in 1941); Thomas Winthrop Streeter (1883-1965) (who donated the book to the AAS in 1952). (This copy lacks a blank fly leaf. It bears the label Brinley 6915. Also has the bookplate of Francis Joseph Hogan (1877-1944).) (The Month at Goodspeed’, November 1930, p. 64, refers to this as the Huntington and Bixby copy, indicating William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931), but this portion of the 1916 catalog clearly designates this item as being from Henry E. Huntington.)
  • Gimbel Collection. Philadelphia Free Public Library. (This may be the John A. Spoor-Thomas & Eron copy, noted by H&C as unlocated in 1943)
  • West Point (a copy obtained in June 1966 through well-known book dealer John Fleming)
  • Robert Eden Martin (1940-) (Daniel Powers Whiting (1808-1892), 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).
  • Brown University (Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays) (This is the copy sold at auction from the library of Judge Albert Gorton Greene (1802-1868), Cleveland, OH, Bangs, Merwin & Co., March 29, 1869, item 1396. Most of Greene’s collection was purchased by Caleb Fiske Harris (1818-1881). Harris’s collection was purchased in 1882 by Senator Henry Bowen Anthony (1815-1884) and given to Brown University in 1884 from Anthony’s estate.)
  • Henry E. Huntington Library (This is identified as the Payson copy. George Shipman Payson (1862-1943), of Chicago, IL, sold by Andersen (NY), January 7-8, 1913, item 386, for $140. The blank corner of the title page has been restored. The book itself has been washed and resewn, with new end papers supplied. It is probably the same as the Rede copy, which had a chip missing from the title page. This copy, and the Rede copy, were bound in green cloth, with a morocco case. It may also be the 1895 Bangs copy, which was noted as being in a morocco case. If this chain of ownership is correct, it would account for the otherwise untraced copies.)

In additon to the entries listed above, there are early sales reports of several copies that are presumably accounted for above but not clearly associated with the chain of provenance for any of these copies.

  • Bangs & Co. (New York, NY), January 14-16, 1895 (in original cloth binding, in a morocco case), item 573, noted in ABC as sold for $100); Bangs & Co. (New York, NY), February 3, 1896 (in original cloth binding, in a morocco case, presumably the same as the prior sale, noted in ABC as sold for $60)
  • Harry Stone (New York, NY), prior to July 1929. Kenneth Rede sold to Harry Stone his personal collection of Poeana, including an edition of the 1831 Poems early in 1929. (A copy of the list of items was sent to J. H. Whitty on July 26, 1929, with the note that everything had already been sold. The copy is described as being in green cloth, with yellow endpapers, and the cover as having damp stains and a small chip missing from the lower right corner or the title page. It is also noted as being in a morocco solander case. (The letter to Whitty is perserved among the J. Whitty Papers at the University of Duke, among his correspondence.)

In a letter of July 12, 1911, Jessica Louise Farnum (1875-1937), the Secetary of the Library of Congress (1908-1937), noted to J. H. Whitty that the library had no copy of the 1831 book. (The letter is in the J. H. Whitty Papers at the Duke University.)



  • 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.
  • Cannon, Carl L., American Book Collectors and Collecting from Colonial Times to the Present, New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1941.
  • Dodge, Norman L., ed., “Helen, Israfel, and Other Masterpieces,” The Month at Goodspeed’s, November 1930, pp. 58-64. (Describes a copy that was being sold by Goodspeed’ for $3,700, and briefly lists copies that have been sold). (This copy was purchased by J. K. Lilly.)
  • 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.)
  • Robertson, John Wooster, Edgar A. Poe: A Study, San Francisco, CA: Privately Printed, 1921, pp. 211-228.
  • 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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