Description

    Rare Herman Melville 1872 Autograph Letter Signed A very scarce autograph letter signed, "H. Melville," 5" x 8", New York, January 13, 1872. An intriguing letter to a Miss Coffin inquiring about information that she had provided earlier. He writes in full, "Miss Coffin: So long a time has elapsed not I can not recall where I got the facts alluded to in your note of the 9th Inst. [illeg.] I am sorry to say -- can I direct you where to get information additional to what you may now recall[?] With much respect, H. Melville." A fascinating association piece. First of all, Coffin's Wharf and Peter Coffin's Inn is noted in the Moby Dick novel. Even more fascinating is the association with the true story which inspired Moby Dick in the first place! The inspiration was the tragedy of the whaling ship Essex which was rammed by a whale in 1820 with a group of survivors forced into a lifeboat and forced to draw straws to decide who was to be eaten. The cabin boy of the Essex, Owen Coffin, was the unfortunate one who drew the short straw. He was then shot and eaten by his fellow crew mates. Unfortunately we don't know much more about the identity of Ms. Coffin, but Melville himself was more than familiar with New Bedford and its environs and probably knew members of this prominent New England family. Very light toning at margins, otherwise in excellent condition. Nicely matted with a portrait of a seated Melville. Accompanied by COA from PSA/DNA.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2005
    13th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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