“’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS…”: PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY CLEMENT MOORE, OF THE RARE FIRST COLLECTED EDITION OF HIS POEMS, FEATURING THE FIRST APPEARANCE IN A BOOK BY HIM OF “A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS”
MOORE, Clement C. Poems. New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844. Small octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled boards. $15,000.
Rare first edition, presentation copy, of the volume containing the first appearance in a book by Moore of his immortal poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (pages 124-27), inscribed by Moore on the half title, “Mr. Miller, from the author. Dec. 1849.”
"Moore, a professor of Hebrew, wrote this poem in 1822 as a Christmas gift for his children. A house guest copied it in the fall of 1823 and later sent her copy to the editor of the Troy Sentinel, where it was first published, anonymously, December 23, 1823… The Santa Claus myth begins around 300 A.D. with St. Nicholas, a bishop in Asia Minor, who was generous to the poor—in all seasons. 'Santa Claus as we (and the world, for that matter) now know him is almost one hundred percent American. Not until St. Nicholas passed through the crucible of Doctor Clement Clarke Moore's mind and imagination did the patron saint of childhood ever ride in a sleigh, or have eight tiny reindeer with bells joyfully to convey him… nor was he dressed in furs, nor did he smoke a pipe, nor did he ever get into the homes of good little boys and girls by going down chimneys'" (Grolier American 100 52). Numerous newspaper printings followed the poem's initial appearance in the Sentinel. The earliest known separate printing was an illustrated broadsheet published circa 1830 (BAL 14346). Its earliest located formal book publication (and its first appearance under Moore's name) was in The New-York Book of Poetry (BAL 14347), edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, which contained verse by Moore and many others. The present volume contains the first appearance of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in a collection of Moore's own work. BAL 14348.
Occasional marginal soiling, light foxing to endpapers and flyleaves. Mild rubbing to contemporary binding. An extremely good inscribed copy.