THE WITCHCRAFT DELUSION IN NEW ENGLAND, 1866, SCARCE LIMITED FIRST EDITION, ONE OF ONLY 280 COPIES
(MATHER, Cotton) (CALEF, Robert) DRAKE, Samuel G. The Witchcraft Delusion in New England: Its Rise, Progress, and Termination. Roxbury, Massachusetts: for W. Elliot Woodward, 1866. Three volumes. Quarto, original ivory wrappers, uncut and partially unopened. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $3500.
Limited first edition, number 219 of only 280 copies, an exceptional edition of Drake's annotated publication of the two key works on the Salem Witch Trials: Cotton Mather's Wonders of the Invisible World and Robert Calef's oppositional response in More Wonders—"a literary milestone that helped shift prevailing views about witchcraft."
An accomplished historian, Samuel Drake was "one of the first great collectors and chroniclers of the American experience." In 1866 Drake used his vast resources and historical knowledge to publish this, his annotated edition of the two central, opposing works on a key controversy of the 17th century—the Salem witch trials. Boston merchant Robert Calef was outraged at the witchcraft trials "and by what he perceived as the blind zealotry of the participating clergy… He directed his sharpest barbs at Cotton Mather… who had written an elaborate account of these and other episodes of apparent demonic possession" in Wonders of the Invisible World (1693). Unable to find a New England publisher for his controversial challenge to the Mather clerical dynasty, Calef was forced to publish his More Wonders in London in 1700. Though Increase Mather ordered a copy of Calef's work to be burned in Harvard Yard, "the damage to Cotton Mather's reputation had already been done… By all accounts, Calef's More Wonders was a literary milestone that helped to shift prevailing views about witchcraft" (ANB). Drake's three-volume edition thoroughly documents the witchcraft trials, printing Mather's and Calef's texts along with his own annotations and notes. This wide-margined copy is number 219 of only 280 copies, printed along with a large paper edition (50 copies), no priority established. Containing engraved head- and tail-pieces, along with full-page reproductions of Mather's and Calef's original title pages. Howes D481. Sabin 20884. Each volume with trace of bookplate removal. Volume III with partial early printed paper spine label.
Text quite fresh and clean. Text block and original paper wraps expertly restored.