Brooklyn, New York, [James and Thomas Rome paid for by Walt Whitman himself], 1855.
Small folio format, flyleaf + with (4) ff. printed newspaper articles (excerpts: letters and reviews), 1 frontispiece portrait (Hollyer engraving), 95 pp. + 2 flyleaves. Bound in a green cloth binding with gilt lettering (Binding “State B”: green cloth with less ornate stamping, see Myerson). Half green morocco articulated case, gilt lettering on the spine, cloth covered boards. Some wear to the binding, minimal; an ink stain on upper board; some foxing to paper. Dimensions of binding 205 x 290 mm.
First edition, second issue of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Printing and the Mind of Man 340. – Grolier 100 Influential American Books 67. – Myerson, Walt Whitman: A Descriptive Bibliography (1993).
This is the same exemplar as the Myerson Collection (University of South Carolina): “The significance of variant bindings while some copies were issued in paper wrappers, most were bound in green cloth, stamped with a pattern of leaves and ferns, and with differing degrees of gilt. The binding variants are evidence that, even with Whitman’s energetic promotion, the book sold slowly and copies were bound in batches” (Leaves of Grass at 150. An exhibition chiefly from the Joel Myerson Collection of Nineteenth-Century American Literature. University of South Carolina, 2005).
Frontispiece portrait of Walt Whitman opposite of the title page, signed in brown ink below. Signed copies of the 1855 Leaves are a rarity. The author Walt Whitman does not appear on the title page but is found on the copyright page.
The importance of the first edition of Leaves of Grass to American literary history is impossible to exaggerate. The slender volume introduced the poet who, celebrating the nation by celebrating himself, has since remained at the heart of America’s cultural memory. As Leaves of Grass grew through its five subsequent editions into a