Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Henry David THOREAU

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Item#: 126957 price:$25,000.00

Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

FIRST EDITION OF THOREAU’S FIRST BOOK, A WEEK ON THE CONCORD AND MERRIMACK RIVERS, THE ARTHUR SWAN COPY

THOREAU, Henry David. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe, 1849. Octavo, original brown cloth gilt; housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase. $25,000.

First edition, first issue, of Thoreau’s first book, one of only 1000 copies printed and one of less than 400 copies in the publisher's cloth, a beautiful copy from the famed collection of Arthur Swann.

In residence at Walden Pond, "Thoreau's first concentrated effort (was) to assemble, flesh out, and then rearrange material about the trip he and (his brother) John had taken on the Concord and Merrimack rivers… in August and September of 1842… A Week literally evolved from Thoreau's materials at hand… It is the first of the many American books shaped along a river trip, the first in which the river becomes a stream, not just of water or even of time, but of consciousness itself" (Richardson, 155). Despite some good reviews, the first edition (consisting of one thousand copies) did not sell. Thoreau wrote, "For a year or two past, my publisher, falsely so called, has been writing from time to time to ask what disposition should be made of the copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers still on hand, and at last suggesting that he had use for the room they occupied in his cellar. So I had them all sent to me here, and they have arrived today by express, filling the man's wagon-706 copies [256 bound copies and 450 still in sheets] out of an edition of 1000 which I bought of Munroe four years ago and have ever since been paying for, and have not quite paid for yet. The wares are sent to me at last, and I have an opportunity to examine my purchase… Of the remaining two hundred and ninety and odd, seventy-five were given away, the rest sold. I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself" (Harding, 254). In 1862, 595 copies of the first edition were bought from Thoreau by Ticknor and Fields and rebound with a new title page bearing their imprint. Borst A1.1a1. Allen, pp. 2-5. BAL 20104. With the bookplate of Arthur Swann. Swann's collection, known for the excellence of its copies, was auctioned in 1960 at the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York. In the catalogue for the auction, this copy is described as "an unusually fine copy," noting "the very important point that the imprint at the foot of the backstrip is intact; this imprint is usually defective or entirely lacking."

A few contemporary ink marks to text block fore-edge, lower front joint with an expert cloth repair. A beautiful copy.

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