Highly sought-after first edition book: Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville. First American edition, first issue with original orange endpapers. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1851. Hardcover bound in publisher's original brown cloth, blindstamped at center with the publisher's circular life-buoy device, faded and worn gilt titles on spine, 5.75 x 7.5, 635 pages, plus 23 pages of prefatory extracts and 6 pages of publisher’s advertisements and blank leaves in rear. An early owner's name is penciled on front pastedown, "J. Mowton Saunders." Restored to very good condition, with extensive restorations to spine cloth, moderate foxing and some small stains to textblock, an ink mark to title page, and a few pages with dog-ear creases; the binding is tight and square.
Established as a successful writer—having published seafaring adventures Typee, Omoo, Mardi, Redburn, and White-Jacket—Melville began writing Moby-Dick upon returning home from a trip abroad in February 1850. He completed the masterpiece over the course of the next 18 months, and it was first published in the autumn of 1851 with an American print run of 2,915 copies. Its opening sentence, "Call me Ishmael," stands among the most famous in all of literature. Despite initial poor sales, Moby-Dick was rediscovered after Melville's death and has since become known as one of the most original and influential books ever written. As a rare first edition of a cornerstone of American literature, this is an extraordinarily desirable example.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.