"ALMOST WITHOUT PARALLEL IN THE HISTORY OF DEFAMATORY LITERATURE": FIRST EDITION OF GOTHAM AND THE GOTHAMITES, 1823
JUDAH, Samuel B.H. Gotham and the Gothamites, A Medley. New York: The Author, 1823. Tall 12mo, original beige paper boards, uncut and unopened. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. $3200.
First edition of this gossipy satire discussing some of New York's most famous 19th-century personalities, the publication of which sparked a libel suit that landed the author in jail, in original boards.
This satire of New York aristocracy at the beginning of the 19th century might have made only a minor splash if not for the controversial marketing efforts of its author. Not content to sit back and watch the reception of his anonymously written work, Samuel Judah hit the streets. As soon as his book was published, Judah decided to leverage his anonymity, posting handbills all over New York that promised a reward for unveiling of the author. Judah also attempted to stir up the personalities mentioned in his work, sending them anonymous letters about the book. The strategy backfired, with Judah finding himself the target of a libel suit. Judah lost. He was saddled with a $400 fine (nearly $10,000 today) and went to prison due to his inability to pay. Only the intervention of the governor five weeks later on compassionate grounds saved him from serving a much longer term. Judah went on to become a lawyer, serving 50 years at the bar, his trespasses evidently forgotten. Shoemaker 12971. BAL 11020. Pencil owner signature.
Light foxing to text and boards, faint dampstaining mainly to rear board and light wear to spine extremities. An extremely good uncut and unopened copy in original boards. Scarce.