Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Appendix B,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: 1846-1849 (2008), pp. vii-xii (This material is protected by copyright)


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Appendix B

Promissory Notes and Receipts

Promissory Note 1 — 1826, December 14 — Poe and Daniel S. Mosby & Co.

41.36/100 On Demand I promise to pay to Danl S. Mosby & Co on order Forty one — Dollars and Thirty Six cents, current money of Virginia, for value received As witness my hand and seal this 14 —— day of December 1826


Notes: This promissory note for $41.36 is one of a handful of documents from Poe’s student days at the University of Virginia. The reason for this particular note is unknown. Quickly depleting the meager sum John Allan had provided, Poe encountered numerous expenses — some perhaps due to inexperience and extravagance, but mostly legitimate expenditures — and he may be borrowing money to cover his mounting debts. On December 4, 1826, for example, Poe purchased from Samuel Leitch, Jr. $68.46 worth of clothing, including a cut velvet vest and “Drab Pantaloones and Trimmings” (see The Poe Log, p. 73).

Source: color photograph of original document (1 p.) in the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. The text was printed by Stovall in “Edgar Poe and the University of Virginia,” Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1967, pp. 297-317. The document is mostly pre-printed, with the handwritten portions given here in italics.

Promissory Note 1a — 1840, June 12 — Poe and Louis A. Godey

Notes: ABC (1922) describes this item as “Autograph Promissory Note for $30 in favor of L. A. Godey, New York, June 12, 1840. The signature has been inked across with three lines, but is perfectly legible.” The exact text, unfortunately, is not quoted. It was sold with an engraved portrait of Poe and a picture of Poe’s house, signed by Hollyer, all together in a frame, Anderson sale (Coutant), February 20, 1922, item 1191, for $51. Poe may have been arranging advertising for the Penn, which he was actively promoting at this time, having recently severed his connections with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (see LTR-93). (A prospectus for the Penn appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on June 6, 1840.) The crossing out of the signature usually indicates that the note was paid.

Promissory Note 2 — 1841, December 1 — Poe and John W. Albright

Philadelphia Dec. 1st 1841

Dolls 104.00

Ninety days after date I promise to pay John W. Albright on order one hundred and four dollars without defalcation for value Received

Edgar A. Poe

Notes: The Poe Log (p. 353) describes John W. Albright as a Philadelphia tailor. The note, therefore, probably indicates that Poe, enjoying a brief taste of financial security as an editor of Graham’s Magazine, purchased some clothing. J. W. Albright is listed on Poe’s bankruptcy papers, filed in 1842, with a debt of $169.10 (see the notes to LTR-135).

Source: photocopy of original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. Only the signature appears to be in Poe’s handwriting. On the back is the notation: “3919 / E A Poe / 104 / Mch 1/4,” along with John W. Albright’s signature, suggesting that the note was paid. Another name appears below that of Albright, but is thoroughly scratched out; it may be “Edgar A Poe, Esqr.” William H. Koester probably purchased the document from the Parke-Bernet Galleries sale (Webster), on April 28, 1947, as item 104, where it sold for $210.

Promissory Note 3 — 1842, May 25 — Poe and Swain, Abel, & Simmons

Philadelphia, May 25, 1842

Due Swain, Abell & Simmons, Thirty-two Dollars eighty-five cents, for value received.

Edgar A. Poe

Notes: The three gentlemen addressed were publishers of the Public Ledger (Philadelphia). Kent Lungquist speculated that this note might be a promise of payment from Poe for the printing of an article which appeared in the Public Ledger and Daily Transcript for December 23, 1841. The article was a long defense of Poe’s “A Chapter on Autography” from Graham’s Magazine of December 1841. Ljungquist further suggests that the article was “probably written (or ghostwritten) by Poe himself” (see “Poe’s ‘Autography’: A New Exchange of Reviews,” American Periodicals, 2:51-63). The debt reflected in the present promissory note is listed in the bankruptcy papers Poe filed in 1842 (see the notes to LTR-135).

Source: text as quoted in full by Jean C. S. Wilson and David A. Randall, eds., Thirteen Author Collections of the Nineteenth Century, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950, p. 323. It is described only as “wholly in Poe’s autograph.” It is also quoted by Phillips (1:742), who further notes that it was in the collection of Joseph Jackson, of Philadelphia, PA. The MS of this due bill has not been located.

Promissory Note 4 — 1845, October 24 — Poe and Horace Greeley

New York, October 24, 1845.

Sixty days after date I promise to pay Edgar A. Poe, or his order, Fifty dollars for value received.

Horace Greeley.

Notes: This promissory note was part of Poe’s plans to purchase the BJ (see LTR-211 and notes). About this promissory note, Greeley wrote a brief article which was much circulated:

“A gushing youth once wrote me to this effect:

Dear Sir: — Among your literary treasures, you have doubtless preserved several autographs of our country’s late lamented poet, Edgar A. Poe. If so, and you can spare one, please inclose it to me, and receive the thanks of yours truly.’

I promptly responded as follows:

Dear Sir: — Among my literary treasures there happens to be exactly one autograph of our country’s late lamented poet, Edgar A. Poe. It is his note of hand for fifty dollars, with my indorsement across the back. It cost me exactly $50.75 (including protest), and you may have it for half that amount.

That autograph, I regret to say, remains on my hands, and is still for sale at first cost, despite the lapse of time and depreciation of our currency.”

The Poe Log (p. 581) interprets Greeley literally, and presumes the existence of two separate documents, one from Poe and the other from Greeley. The description of this note, however, suggests that Greeley is being careless or overly dramatic and that he actually means the present item. The indignation shown by Greeley in his comments makes sense only if he is describing a debt that Poe left unpaid, but if the note was in Poe’s hand, Greeley’s “indorsement across the back” would suggest that the debt was fulfilled, just as one endorses a check not when it is given but when it is cashed or deposited. More importantly, Greeley says that he has “exactly one autograph” of Poe, for which the present item (which Greeley certainly had at this time) would qualify. This note is clearly linked with the contract Poe signed with John Bisco on October 24, 1845 to purchase the BJ for the sum of $50 and the assumption by Poe of all outstanding debts of the enterprise. In connection with this second obligation, see PN-5. For the contract, see Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, p. 80 (item 97), and especially Quinn, pp. 752-753.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The note is entirely in Greeley’s hand, with Poe’s signature being his only contribution. Across the back of the note appears “Pay to Bearer, Edgar A. Poe. David Harriot (endorsed by Poe.)” According to Phillips (2:1064), the note was “given years ago by Greeley’s sister — widow of John F. Cleveland, long time treasurer of the New York Tribune — to Frances Walker, from whom it was bought by Mr. Madigan.” The item was first printed in Greeley’s Recollections of a Busy Life, New York: J. B. Ford & Co., 1868, pp. 196-197. The amusing notice was extracted and reprinted in the Independent (January 30, 1868, p. 4. col. 6) and elsewhere. The note was later printed in Bruno’s Weekly (March 4, 1916, pp. 526-528), with the misleading title “Greeley Pays Poe for Contributions.” This error was adopted by Phillips (2:1063-1064), who comments: “This note seems to show that even Greeley did not pay promptly for Poe’s productions,” apparently assuming that this sum represented pay for the reprint of “The Raven” in the Daily Tribune (February 4, 1845) and Weekly Tribune (February 8, 1845). (In general, periodicals did not pay for reprints.) The note was sold for $65 at an Anderson sale (Sanderson), May 1, 1916, item 643; and again at another Anderson sale (Jones), January 29, 1919, item 1308, for $95.

Promissory Note 5 — 1845, October 24 — Poe and John Bisco

New York Oct. 24th 1845

$100 —

Three months from Date — I promise to pay, John Bisco, on order, One Hundred Dollars, for value received

Edgar A Poe

Notes: This note presumably covers the second part of Poe’s purchase of the BJ, whereby he agreed to assume all outstanding debts of the journal (see PN-4 and notes, and also Quinn, pp. 751-753). Bisco apparently transferred the note as indicated by an accompanying receipt, dated “New York Dec. 13. 1845”: “Received of Mr John Bisco a note of hand drawn by Edgar A Poe in favor of said Bisco for one hundred <dollars> dated the 24th of Oct. and payable in 3 months from date / W. H. Starr.” An unnoticed article by T. S. Collier includes general recollections of Poe by William H. Starr, describing Starr as the publisher of the BJ (see Cottage Hearth, November 1878, 5:361-363). This note may explain the context for LTR-211 and LTR-213.

Source: photocopy of original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The main portion of the note is in Bisco’s handwriting, with only the signature being by Poe. On the back is Bisco’s endorsement. Moldenhauer describes it as “faded black ink on a slip of yellowed white paper, 7 1/4 by 3 inches,” further noting that Bisco’s endorsement is in blue ink (Descriptive Catalog, p. 80). The document appears to have been obtained by William H. Koester from a New York autograph dealer about May 22, 1934. That dealer purchased a number of Bisco-related items from an American Art Association sale (Gable), November 5-6, 1923, as lot 633.

Promissory Note 6 — 1846, January 15 — Poe and Louis A. Godey

New-York: Jan 15. 1846.

[name excised] Esqre — At three days’ sight, please pay to the order of Harnden & Co, the sum of Twenty-Five Dollars, and charge the same to my account.

[Edgar A Poe]

Notes: The missing name is almost surely L. A. Godey, although the Boston Public Library suggests John McDougall. (See PN-7 and PN-8 for nearly identical items, at various times during the same year.) In addition to sending packages, Harnden’s could also be used to transmit funds. Such an intermediary was useful in this case since Godey was in Philadelphia and Poe in New York. In 1846, cross-state banking was a relative novelty, and would have done Poe little good since he had no money to open and sustain an account. This may be one of the payments referred to by Poe when he wrote Godey on April 28, 1846 (LTR-229a), “Thank you for the prompt payment of the 4 drafts.” Poe published a number of items in Godey’s in the last few months of 1845 (including two installments of “Marginalia” and reviews of works by Cornelius Mathews and Mrs. E. Oakes Smith), and a review of Wm. G. Simms’ The Wigwam and the Cabin for the January 1846 issue.

Source: photocopy of original MS (1 p.) in the Boston Public Library (MS E .9.4 75-166). Ostrom misleadingly describes this note in his Check List of 1981 (CL-610e) as a “Three-line letter.” The note of “$25 — “ appears running vertically along the left edge. The verso is endorsed, like a check, partially obscured by the excision of the name from the note. The final five letters of “McDougall” run off the edge of the page, suggesting that the surviving item was cut down from a larger sheet of paper. It was listed for $150 in the Collector, November 1946, item J-199a.

Promissory Note 7 — 1846, May 14 — Poe and Louis A. Godey

L. A. Godey Esqr — At three days’ sight please pay to the order of Harnden & Co. Thirty Dollars, and charge the same to my account.

New-York: May 14, 1846. Edgar A. Poe.

Notes: Along with PN-6 and PN-8, the present item represents partial payment for Poe’s contributions to Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1846. The sum of thirty dollars noted here presumably covers the slightly more than eight pages of the first installment of “The Literati of New York City” from the May issue of Godey’s. No installment was printed in the April issue, although Poe’s review of Wm. C. Bryant does appear there. Godey’s typical payment for contributions was $5 per page, but he probably offered less for articles of a more editorial nature.

Source: text as printed in an undated sale catalog. The item is described as endorsed, and it is further noted that Poe’s signature has been struck through with three slashes.

Promissory Note 8 — 1846, November 18 — Poe and Louis A. Godey

L. A. Godey Esqr — At three days’ sight please pay to the order of Harnden & co. [sic] Fourteen Dollars, and charge the same to my account.

New-York: Nov. 18, 1846. Edgar A. Poe.

Notes: Along with PN-6 and PN-7, the present item probably represents partial payment for Poe’s contributions to Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1846. It is tempting to think that the contribution in question might be Poe’s great tale “The Cask of Amontillado,” which ran in Godey’s for November 1846. In that issue, the tale occupied 2 3/4 pages, and Godey usually paid $5 per page, apparently adjusting downward for pages which were not completely filled.

Source: photocopy of original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. In the MS, Poe’s signature has been struck through with three slashes, and the number “$14 — “ is printed vertically along the left side of the page. On the back is the signature: “Harnden / Co / R. Luke Damon / Atty” in the middle of the page. It is also endorsed: “E. A. Poe / Nov. 19 / 46 / $14.” The page has been cut down so that it is about the size of a modern check.

Promissory Note 9 — 1848, May 23 — Poe and George P. Putnam

Received of George P. Putnam Fourteen Dollars money loaned, to be repaid out of the proceeds of the Copyright of my work entitled “Eureka, a Prose Poem”; and I hereby engage, in case the sales of said work do not cover the expenses, according to the account rendered by said Putnam in January 1849, to repay the said amount of Fourteen Dollars; and I also engage not to ask or apply for any other loans or advances from said Putnam in any way, and to wait until January 1849 for the statement of account as above, before making any demand whatever. Edgar A. Poe. New York, May 23, 1848. Witness, Maria Clemm, Marie Louise Shew.

Notes: After publicly presenting his ideas on “The Universe,” beginning early in 1848, Poe soon sought to publish the lecture as Eureka: A Prose Poem. He approached George P. Putnam, and was able to convince the publisher to proceed. The agreement (currently in the Gimbel Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia) was signed on May 22, 1848, and the slim volume appeared about July 15, 1848. In spite of Poe’s great hopes for the book, the present item clearly shows that the publisher was far less enthusiastic. The episode is briefly detailed in Putnam’s article “Leaves from a Publisher’s Letter-Book,” Putnam’s Monthly, 14:470-471. In a footnote, Putnam says, “Even after this small edition was in type, the poet proposed to punish us by giving a duplicate of the MS. to another publisher, because a third little advance was deemed inexpedient.” (The comments are partly reprinted by Ingram, 2:145. See also Poe’s postscript to LTR-269.) According to Phillips (2:1260), one third of the 750 copies printed were still on hand a year later.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The text was first published by Putnam’s son, George Haven Putnam in A Memoir of George Palmer Putnam, together with a record of the publishing house founded by him, 2 volumes, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1903.

Promissory Note 10 — 1849, February 3 — Poe and Isaac Cooper

$67. = New York Feby 3rd 1849

Sixty days from date I promise to pay Isaac Cooper on order Sixty Seven Dollars at the Bowery Bank for value received.

Edgar A Poe.

Notes: The identity of Isaac Cooper and the circumstances for the loan indicated by the present item are unknown. If Cooper was an agent for the Flag of Our Union, this note might reflect Poe’s recent arrangements to contribute material to that periodical (see LTR-302b and LTR-303).

Source: original MS (1 p.) at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (MA 644-2). On the back of the slip of paper, obviously cut down from a slightly larger sheet, run the following names: Isaac Cooper, [first name missing] B. Merritt, and [John ?}] A. Merritt. These endorsements suggest that the note was paid or transferred.

Receipt 1 — 1841, March 25-July 20 — Poe and George R. Graham

[front of page]

Recd March 25th 1841 of Geo. R. Graham Sixty dollars on acct $60 Edgar A Poe

Recd April 3d 1841 of Geo R — Graham Fifty Four Dollars on acct $54 Edgar A. Poe

Recd April 24th 1841 of Geo. R. Graham Forty Dollars on acct $40

Edgar A Poe

[back of page]

Recd July 2nd 1841 of Geo. R. Graham Fifty Five dolls on acct $55

Edgar A Poe

Recd July 20th 1841 of Geo. R. Graham One Hundred & Five on acc $105 Edgar A Poe.

Notes: The description in the catalog for Gimbel’s 1959 exhibit (p. 154, item 44A) states, with some presumption: “These receipts represented Poe’s pay for thirty-three contributions to Graham’s Magazine, including his critical reviews of Dickens, Irving, Bulwer, Macaulay, Marryat, Ainsworth, Warren, etc., and for his own ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ ‘A Descent into the Maelstrom,’ ‘The Island of the Fay,’ ‘The Colloquy of Monos and Una,’ ‘To Helen,’ ‘Never Bet the Devil Your Head,’ and ‘Israfel.’ His total earnings for these were $314.” In the Gribble sale, May 7-8, 1945, item 432, Parke-Bernet Galleries sold an autograph MS of one leaf bearing five memoranda from Poe’s personal account book. Both sides of the single sheet carried the preceding record of payments made by Graham to Poe. As for RC-2 and RC-3, it is impractical to attempt a precise matching of pay to specific items Poe wrote.

Source: color photograph of original MS (2 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The five receipts are on both sides of a single sheet of paper, measuring approximately 12.5 cm x 8.2 cm.

Receipt 2 — 1841, September 25- 1842, March 31 — Poe and George R. Graham

[front of page]

Sep 25th 184[1]. Recd of Geo. R. Graham Thirty Three Doll[ar]s and fifty Cents on acct of editing Magazine.

Edgar A Poe

Oct 13,/41. Recd of Geo. R. Graham Sixty Dollars and Ninety Cents on acct of editing Magazine.

[back of page]

Edgar A Poe

February 28th 1842. Recd of Mr. G. R. Graham Fifty eights [sic] Dollars, in full for salary as Editor, up to this date.

Edgar A Poe

March 31st 1842. Recd of Mr. G. R. Graham Fifty eight dollars in full for salary, up to this date.

Edgar A Poe

Notes: Poe left Graham’s Magazine after the May 1842 issue. Among his contributions which may be covered by these receipts are: “A Chapter on Autography,” published in two parts (November and December 1841); “A Few Words about Brainard” (February 1842); “To One Departed” (March 1842); “Life in Death” (April 1842), better known under the later title of “The Oval Portrait”; and “Mask of the Red Death” (May 1842).

Source: photograph of original MS in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The four receipts are on both sides of a single sheet of paper, measuring approximately 3 3/16 inches by 4 7/16 inches. It appears to be from the same accounting book as RC-1. It was purchased from the American Autograph Shop, Merion Station, PA, about 1941, listed in the catalog as item 210 (with a partial facsimile).

Receipt 3 — 1845, May 23 — Poe and John Bisco

New-York: Jany: 20.th 45. Recd of Mr John Bisco eighteen dollars, in full for two articles in “Broadway Journal”.

Edgar A Poe

New-York: April 7th-45. Received of John Bisco ten dollars, on account of the Southern Literary Messenger. 10 $

Edgar A Poe

New-York: April 16 / 45. Received of John Bisco three dollars on a/c of Southern L. Messenger.

Edgar A Poe

New-York: April 30th 1845. Received of John Bisco five dollars [on] account of the “Southern Literary Messenger.”

Edgar A Poe

Notes: These four receipts, along with Poe’s July 17, 1846 letter to Bisco (LTR-238), were long preserved in volume I of John Bisco’s own copy of the BJ (along with various other material). The first receipt is for Poe’s two-part critique of Elizabeth Barrett’s Drama of Exile and Other Poems which appeared in the BJ (January 4 and 11, 1:4-8; see 1:17-20; Writings, 5:1-15), for which apparently he received $2 per page. See Allen, 2:652 [1926] and p. 521 [1934]. The SLM reprinted “The Raven” (March 1845, 11:186-188), apparently at Poe’s request (see LTR-193a and notes). The April 1845 issue contains an announcement that “we have engaged the services of Mr. Poe, who will contribute monthly a critique raisonnée of the most important forthcoming works in this country and in Europe” (SLM, 11:256). Although B. B. Minor states that “it was never in the least part fulfilled by Mr. Poe” (The SLM: 1834-1864, p. 140), Poe did contribute reviews of C. Anthon’s A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (May 1845, 11:326; see Writings, 5:370) and of Francis Fauvel-Gouraud’s Phreno-Mnemotechny (May 1845, 11:326-328; see Writings, 5:370-371), both incorporating material from the BJ (see Writings, 3:81 and 3:83).

Source: photographic facsimile of the four separate slips, reproduced in the Parke-Bernet catalog. After the sale of Bisco’s set of the BJ, from the H. Bradley Martin sale in 1990, the collection of receipts was broken up to accompany other items. The first receipt was sold with Bisco’s set of the BJ; the second receipt was sold with volumes I-III of the SLM; the third receipt was framed with two portraits of Poe (offered in 2004 for $20,000); and the fourth receipt was sold with a fragment of Poe’s coffin, exhumed in 1875. (The July 17, 1846 letter from Poe to John Bisco, LTR-238, was also removed from the set and sold separately.)






[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Appendix B)