“Life’s Poetry”… Food for thought…

May 16, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

As I was searching through our inventory of mid-1850’s Correctors (Sag Harbor) for an historic ad for “Douglass & Van Scoy – PHOTOGRAPHS and DAGUERREOTYPES” – pioneer American photographers, I came across the poem shown below which caused me to pause and smell the roses. Enjoy.

I’m New Here, Weeks Five & Six…

March 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a great day when you locate an issue that someone is wanting, particularly when they really want it.  Usually the request begins with, “There’s probably no chance you have this title, but…”  Because of our significant database I can now ascertain the general direction a new search will go, and have learned to further diminish expectations with words like, “Well, you are correct — that is a highly desirable date…”  Occasionally, my computer will display little notes or other indicators that this is possibly something I (with assistance) can find.  Without raising hopes I mention that it doesn’t look promising but there is something I want to double-check before I give a definitive “no”.

This morning’s call from one of our cheery customers delivered a query for a Harper’s Weekly from 1863.  He was looking for Emancipation Proclamation content, although many collectors want that particular issue for the full page Winslow Homer print or the double-page Thomas Nast “The War in the Border States”.  I reverently turned the pages to investigate the text in question, and found it free of foxing or damp stains or tears.  And then I found something else.

Just beside the historical, monumental words, the Harper’s editor placed or approved a first installment of Wilkie Collins’ No Name.   Although I have read his fifth book, I didn’t know that Collins was another contemporary of Dickens and Whitman.  I didn’t even know that “Wilkie” was a man.  And these little rabbit trails clamored for my attention and had me skimming the assertion by William Makepeace Thackeray on The Woman in White:  that it had him “transfixed” – a book that I’d found lengthy and melodramatic upon personal encounter.

I particularly enjoy this multi-layered discovery aspect of collecting/perusing early newspapers, and I grin over the notes back from purchasers describing the bonus treasures.  One that came this week included an exclamation over a Gentleman’s Magazine:  “R is over the moon as we discovered a paragraph about an intercepted letter from Alexander Hamilton complaining about congress and money! It’s just stunning to read these things as contemporary accounts.”

So, feel free to join the conversation and comment about the amazing things you unexpectedly have in your collection that you never intended to purchase. My own W.C. search is ongoing, as all the commentary I can find is that Collins was serialized in Dicken’s “All The Year Round”, with nary a mention of the great Harper’s.  Incidentally, if you are new to this world it might either interest or frustrate you to know the brand encompasses “Harper’s Weekly”,” Harper’s Monthly” (which is also sometimes called “Harper’s New Monthly”), and then the non-newspaper titles of “Harper’s Bazaar” and the various Harper’s books.  The Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspaper inventory contains the first two titles and it is there I will be searching for Chapter Two.

At least, that is how it will begin.

They put it in print – Walt Whitman did not appreciate contemporary poetry…

October 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

During an interview in 1887, Walt Whitman stated he did not appreciate contemporary poetry, with one exception. How do we know? They put it in print in the Harper’s Weekly dated April 23, 1887:

Memorial Day… The Blue and the Gray…

May 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently discovered an original issue of The Atlantic Monthly for September, 1867, which contained the earliest nationally distributed printing (and maybe the first ever) of ‘The Blue and the Gray,” by Francis Miles Finch. Although Memorial Day had not been officially proclaimed (via General Order #11, May 5, 1868), the practice of placing flowers and wreaths on the tombstones if the fallen was somewhat common. What was uncommon was the act of a group of women in Columbus, Mississippi, which is best described in the preface to Finch’s poem (quoted from the New York Tribune):

“The women of Columbus, Mississippi, animated by nobler sentiments than are many of their sisters, have shown themselves impartial in their offerings made to the memory of the dead. They strewed flowers alike on the graves of the Confederate and of the National soldiers.”

In recognition of Memorial Day, please enjoy the full text of this grand expression of appreciation for those who have fallen in battle – be they blue or gray:

 

Victor Hugo – poetry in early 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines…

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In our opinion, one of the early titles we come across, The Gentleman’s Magazine, is grossly underappreciated. This London “Reader’s Digest-sized” publication which spanned the early 18th through mid-19th centuries and was known for great reporting from throughout the world, was also pregnant with book reviews, poetry, mathematical challenges, birth and death notices, and an abundance of plates depicting everything from maps to sketches of rare animals, historical cathedrals, and notable men and women of the era. While we’ve written about this title in previous posts (view posts), our attention this time around is in regards to poetry – with a question.

Whereas nearly every issue contains poetry of the period, the poets are often unknown to me, and therefore, rarely catch my eye. However, during the process of scanning The Gentleman’s magazine for July, 1833 looking for content related to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, one name in the heading of a poem caught my eye: Victor Hugo. After reading the poem – and being moved, I became curious as to whether this was an early (1st???) printing – and therefore more valuable as a collectible, or if he had penned it many years prior. Unfortunately a cursory on-line investigation came up empty in regards to a validation that the poem was even written by him, let alone its original date of publication. Of course this begs the question: Can anyone attribute this to him and/or confirm its first printing? If anyone is in the know, please share your knowledge with the collectible community. Thanks in advance. AND as for the poem itself:

A curious find that lead to more than expected…

July 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Although not a poetry aficionado, I am aware that “Leaves Of Grass” by Walt Whitman is considered a seminal work in 19th century literature. So when I stumbled across a small article on page 7 of a New York Tribune issue dated Oct. 10, 1855 I took a moment to read it. Most of the report is taken up with a letter signed in type: R. W. Emerson, so my interest was piqued.

After a number of Google searches I discovered this report to be much more significant that I might have thought.

Although considered highly controversial during his era, “Leaves of Grass” has infiltrated popular culture & been recognized as one of the central works of American poetry. As such, the article is interesting, mentioning in part: “…call the attention of our readers to this original & striking collection of poems, by Mr. Whitman…could not avoid noticing certain faults which seemed to us to be prominent in the work. The following opinion, from a distinguished source, views the matter from a more positive and less critical stand-point:…” and what follows is the famous letter by Ralph Waldo Emerson–who inspired this work by Whitman–in which he comments: “…I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed…I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy…” and even more, signed in type: R. W. Emerson. This original letter is in the Library of Congress.
This letter’s appearance in the Tribune would seem to be the only newspaper printing of the time, as records indicate that the: “…letter to Whitman from Ralph Waldo Emerson, 21 July, 1855 is among the most famous letters ever written to an aspiring writer…Without asking Emerson’s permission, Whitman gave this private letter to Charles Dana [managing editor of the New York Tribune] for publication in the New York Tribune on October, 1855.” (see this hyperlink).Blog-7-25-2016-Leaves-of-Grass

A broken heart… 200+ years ago… today?

February 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Anguish… deep sorrow… pain and emptiness that engulf and suffocate… As the saying goes: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” No matter how far we advance as a race over time, the death of a loved one elicits the same paralyzing emotions today as it did 100… 1000… 5,000 years ago, and will continue to do so as long as humanity walks this earth. Such is the case (in spades) with a parent’s crushed spirit upon the loss of a child. While searching through an original printing of The American Magazine, Philadelphia, dated May, 1792 in the hopes of finding historical content, I came across the printing of a letter from a Father who was trying to come to terms with the untimely loss of his child. Language usage and expression aside, this letter written 200+ years ago could easily have been written yesterday. It also made me thankful for a hope beyond the grave – a hope that shouts from a Father’s pen as he attempts to express his heart… his love… his hope:Blog-2-27-2015-death-1

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The Traveler… Johnson’s “Great Society”… death of a poet…

January 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled back to January 5, 1965 by way of The Springfield Union, Massachusetts (January 5, 1965). There I found the reporting of President Johnson’s Blog-1-5-2014-T.S.-Eliot-DeState-of-the-Union message in which he presented several new programs. “…These are all parts of the Johnson design for a ‘Great Society’, he hopes will develop through decades ahead… the search begins for a way to ‘elevate the quality of our civilization.’…” This was to be for a better health care program for the elderly under the Social Security, to help develop regions suffering from distress and depression, new education programs, and more.

Also in the issue was the report of the death of poet and playwright T. S. Eliot. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948 “for his outstanding pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”. His book of poetry “Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats” is what the musical “Cats” was based on, which has been the third longest running show in Broadway history.

~The Traveler

A lament of a dying soldier…

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Occasionally the human side of war comes through in the newspapers of the day, giving hard evidence of the tragedy of lost life and how it affects those back home. The front page of the: “Hammond Gazette” from Point Lookout, Maryland, Jan. 27, 1864, contains a poem titled “Who Will Care for Mother Now?” (see below) It reflects the sorrows & concerns of a dying soldier, and obviously attracted much attention as the internet is full of references to this poem, which at some point was to music as well.