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    An Excellent Copy, Both Volumes Uncut and in the Original Boards

    [Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay]. The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes. Vol. I.[- Vol. II.]. New-York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, 1788. First complete edition in book form of "The Federalist Papers"-"the most famous and influential American political work" (Howes), and "one of the new nation's most important contributions to the theory of government" (Printing and the Mind of Man). One of 500 copies printed. Two volumes, twelvemo in sixes (Volume I: 6.875 x 4.5 inches (174 x 115 mm.); Volume II: 7.375 x 4.5 inches (189 x 114 mm.)). [2, blank], vi, 227, [1, blank]; [2, blank], vi, 384 pages. Each volume complete with the preliminary blank leaf (not used as the pastedown, as in some copies), with the preliminary blank and title leaf apparently conjugate, and the preliminary note and contents leaf in Volume I (pages [iii]/iv and [v]/vi) being a conjugate pair, the first leaf signed "a2," and the two contents leaves in Volume II (pages [iii]/iv and [v]/vi) being a conjugate pair, the first leaf signed "a2." Volume II is the second issue, with the spine stamped in black ink with the arabic number "2,"and with "Number LXX" on page 240 correctly printed (in the first issue, the spine is stamped in black ink with the roman numeral "II," and "Number LXX" is incorrectly printed as "Number LXXX"). In the last two gatherings of Volume II, watermarks of Delaware's first paper mill, Joshua Gilpin & Company, are visible: the top portion of a fleur-de-lis on leaves Hh4 (pages 367/368) and Ii4 (pages 379/380); "J G & Co" on leaf Hh6 (pages 371/372); and "BRANDYWINE" vertically down the outer margin of Ii6 (pages 383/384), ending at the top of the outer margin of Ii5 (pages 381/382). Page 256 in Volume II is incorrectly numbered 156.

    Entirely uncut, in the original publisher's pale gray-green paper boards with cream-colored paper spines. Volume II is mostly unopened, and remarkably fresh. The volume number "2" is stamped in black ink on the spine, as issued. The spine of Volume I has been expertly renewed to style, with the number "1" stamped in black ink on the spine. The bindings are rubbed slightly, especially at the corners and board edges; the spines a little darkened and rubbed. Volume I boards with some discoloration, dampstaining, and a few small areas of surface loss, the front board with several dark ink stains; Volume II boards with some soiling, staining, and areas of slight discoloration (but much less than Volume I).

    Some browning and foxing, as usual (more so in Volume I); occasional minor marginal soiling. Several leaves in each volume creased during printing, sometimes affecting a few letters in the text, but with no loss. Volume I is especially fragile, with the paper becoming brittle, and some marginal chipping and tiny tears at the uncut edges. Large faint fox mark in the outer margin of A6 (pages 11/12). Title leaf with tiny horizontal split in the gutter at the top (horizontal) chain line; final leaf T6 (pages 227/[228]) separating from the text block, with a tiny sliver missing in the lower gutter; vertical split in the inner margin of E5 (pages 57/58) at the edge of the printed text; E6 (pages 59/60) creased and beginning to split along the inner edge of the printed text. Small piece (measuring approximately .625 x 2.875 inches) torn from the upper portion of the preliminary blank and title leaf, removing a previous owner's surname from the title-page, and the "E" and part of the letter "H" in "THE" in the title. The remaining early ink ownership inscription on the title-page reads: "John [?] / New York / April 9th A Domini 1809," continuing with the names of the three authors: "by Alexander Hamilton James Madison / & / John Jay." Only the lower portion of one word remains on the preliminary blank (possibly "Book"). Paper crumpled slightly in the upper margin of D6, E1, and E2 (pages 47/48, 49/50, and 51/52); small hole (paper flaw) in the outer blank margin of H2 (pages 87/88), and another in the outer margin of M1 (pages 133/134), just touching the outer edge of the text. Small ink stain in the outer margin of Q3 verso (page 186), lightly offset onto page 187; ink smudges on page 143; and ink marks across the text on pages 169, 172, and 173; small spot or smudge in the last word in line 11 of page 57, concealing two letters in the word "popular." Marginal pencil annotations on pages [v]-vi of contents; a few additional marginal pencil markings. Printing flaw on page 183 (four lines of text faintly printed).

    Volume II with a small piece (measuring approximately .375 x 1.75 inches) torn from lower blank margin of A1 (pages [1]/2), the missing piece apparently affixed to the front turn-in; one-inch tear and a small piece torn from the upper corner of L4 (pages 127/128); half-inch tear in lower gutter of Y4 (pages 259/260); a few leaves poorly opened at the upper edge, and a few additional minor marginal tears or paper flaws. Over-opened just slightly between gatherings M and N (pages 144 and 145); sewing thread visible (stitched into the gutter) in the upper gutter margin of gathering Z (pages 265-276). Small very faint stain at the outer edge of gathering A (title-page through page 12); dampstain in the lower gutter and lower outer corner of the rear endpapers, just barely visible on the two final leaves (Ii5 and Ii6); the lower edge of the final leaf Ii6 (pages 383/384) appears to have been adhered to the rear pastedown, with a slight abrasion at the lower edge and a corresponding adhesion on the lower edge of the turn-in. Small hole in the text of Q2 (pages 183/184), with loss of one letter on recto and affecting two letters on verso; Hh2 (pages 363/364), with loss of two letters on both recto and verso; and Ii4 (pages 379/380), just touching two letters on recto and one on verso. Gathering Cc (pages 301-312) with very slight crease across the upper corner.

    An excellent copy, extremely rare with both volumes entirely uncut in the original boards. In addition, Volume II is largely unopened and is remarkably fresh. Each volume with the black leather gilt armorial ex libris of Alfred Nathan on the front pastedown. Laid into Volume I is a typed receipt from bookseller Charles Sessler, Philadelphia, dated "7.28.41," to a Mr. G. Stengel, "Newtown Square, Pa." Each volume is chemised in an early twentieth-century red roan pull-off case, the spine lettered and dated in gilt with five raised bands. The cases are rubbed slightly and scuffed in places, darkened around the edges and on the tops, with a few small areas of surface loss; Volume I case has apparently been repaired, with a small area of loss of leather on the top remaining; Volume II case split around the edges.

    Church 1230. ESTC W5416. Evans 21127 ("printed in two states-a few copies on superfine royal writing paper, besides the ordinary paper-and the second volume is printed on paper somewhat larger than the first volume"). Ford, Bibliography of the Constitution, 43. Ford, Bibliotheca Hamiltoniana, 17. Grolier, 100 American, 19. Grolier, 100 English, 55. Howes H114. Printing and the Mind of Man 234. Sabin 23979. Streeter 1049. See also Richard B. Bernstein, Are We to be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1987), pp. 230-242.

    More Information:

    "When Alexander Hamilton invited his fellow New Yorker John Jay and James Madison, a Virginian, to join him in writing the series of essays published as The Federalist, it was to meet the immediate need of convincing the reluctant New York State electorate of the necessity of ratifying the newly proposed Constitution of the United States. The eighty-five essays, under the pseudonym 'Publius', were designed as political propaganda, not as a treatise of political philosophy. In spite of this The Federalist survives as one of the new nation's most important contributions to the theory of government...The first number of The Federalist appeared on 27 October 1787 in The Independent Journal, or The General Advertiser and newspaper publication continued in this and three other papers, The New York Packet, The Daily Advertiser, and The New York Journal and Daily Patriotic Register, through number 77, 2 April 1788. The first thirty-six essays were published in book form on 22 March 1788 by J. and A. McLean of New York and a second volume containing essays 37-85 followed on 28 May. Thus numbers 78-85 were published in book form before they appeared in the popular press" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    According to Bernstein (p. 237), "it is now agreed that Hamilton wrote Nos. 1, 6-9, 11-13, 15-17, 21-36, 59-61, and 65-86; that Madison wrote Nos. 10, 14, 18-20 (with reference to some material provided by Hamilton), 37-58, 62, and 63; and that Jay wrote Nos. 2-5 and 64."Volume II contains essay Numbers 37-85, as well as the complete text of the Constitution, headed "Articles of the New Constitution; as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787," and the resolutions of the Constitutional Convention (pages [367]-384).

    "These eighty-five essays on the Constitution, almost entirely written by Hamilton and Madison (probably only five were by Jay) and published in the New York newspapers under the name of 'Publius,' were a step in Hamilton's campaign to win over a hostile majority in New York for a ratification of the Constitution. To the people of the time the collected essays were little more than a huge Federalist pamphlet. A generation passed before it was recognized that these essays by the principal author of the Constitution and its brilliant advocate were the most authoritative interpretation of the Constitution as drafted by the Convention of 1787. As a commentary and exposition on the Constitution the influence of the Federalist has been profound" (Grolier, 100 American).

    "The first volume of the M'Lean Edition appeared on March 22, 1788. It reprinted the essays that had been numbered 1 through 35 in the newspapers, subject to four important editorial actions. First, Hamilton tinkered slightly with the order of the essays. The essay that had been number 35 in the newspapers became number 29 in the M'Lean Edition, and the numbering of the subsequent essays all increased because of this change. Second, Hamilton divided the essay that had been numbered 31 in the newspapers into two essays (renumbered as 32 and 33). The first volume of the M'Lean edition thus contained a total of 36 rather than 35 essays...The second volume of the M'Lean Edition was published on May 28, 1788. It included the essays that had been numbered 36 through 76 in the newspapers, and renumbered them 37 through 77 (given that the original essay 31 had been divided). The second volume also included eight new essays that had not previously appeared in the newspapers. These new essays were numbered 78 to 85. The new essays subsequently were republished in New York City newspapers, which also numbered them 78 to 85...John and Archibald M'Lean printed 500 copies of their two-volume collection of the essays. The book initially did not sell very well. The publishers complained in October 1788, long after New York had ratified the Constitution, that they still had several hundred unsold copies. Some copies of the book, however, did travel far. The M'Leans shipped dozens of copies to locations outside New York City, and Hamilton sent about 50 copies to Richmond in time for the Virginia state ratifying convention" (Gregory E. Maggs, "A Concise Guide to the Federalist Papers," Boston University Law Review 87 (2007), pages 813-815).

    This copy was Lot 112 in the November 27, 1934, Anderson Galleries sale of "The Fine Library of the Late Alfred Nathan, New York City," where it was described as "FIRST EDITION OF THE FEDERALIST IN THE ORIGINAL BOARDS, UNCUT 2 vols., 12mo, original boards, uncut; backstrip missing from Vol. 1 and name torn from title-page and first blank leaf, front cover loose. In two red straight-grain morocco slip cases...Volume two is immaculate, uncut and mainly unopened. Volume one has the text in fine clean condition, though the covers are slightly soiled and the title-page contains the names of the authors written in 1809." It is also possible that this copy is Lot 513 in the February 25, 26, 27 and 28, 1890, Bangs & Co. sale of "The Library of the late James Carson Brevoort of Brooklyn, " which is described as "a most extraordinary copy, both volumes being in the original boards, uncut rough edges, some of the leaves undivided. The second volume is nearly one inch taller than the first, the title-page of which has a piece torn off the top. Otherwise it is clean and perfect."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2019
    6th Wednesday
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