An Exceptional First Edition of "Moby-Dick" in the Original Cloth
MELVILLE, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers , 1851.
First American edition (first published in three volumes in London under title: The Whale). Twelvemo (7 3/8 x 4 7/8 inches; 188 x 125 mm). xxiii, [1, blank], 634, [1, “Epilogue”], [1, blank], [6, ads], [2, blank] pp.

BAL first binding of publisher’s green-blue “A” cloth. Covers stamped in blind with a heavy rule frame and publisher’s circular device at center, spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. Original orange coated endpapers. Double flyleaves at front and back. Gilt on spine is bright. Cloth with some light sunning to spine and some minor soiling to boards. Some minor chipping to head and tale of spine. Light scattered foxing, better than usually found. Binding slightly skewed. Previous owner's old ink signature on front endpaper. Still a superb copy, totally unsophisticated. Chemised and housed in a quarter morocco slipcase.

“[Melville’s] great book, Moby Dick, was a complete practical failure, misunderstood by the critics and ignored by the public; and in 1853 the Harpers’ fire destroyed the plates of all of his books and most of the copies remaining in stock [only about sixty copies survived the fire]...Melville’s permanent fame must always rest on the great prose epic of Moby Dick, a book that has no equal in American literature for variety and splendor of style and for depth of feeling” (D.A.B. XII, pp. 522-526).

“Moby Dick is the great conundrum-book. Is it a profound allegory with the white whale the embodiment of moral evil, or merely the finest story of the sea ever written?” (Grolier, 100 American).

“The publishers used as their text Melville’s original manuscript. The Whale, as issued in London, was set from New York sheets, with Melville’s alterations” (BAL).

“This book was expurgated for publication in England, the American text containing thirty-five passages not included in Bentley’s edition” (Sadleir, Excursions in Victorian Bibliography, p. 339).

BAL 13664. Grolier, 100 American, 60.

HBS # 68502 $75,000