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    An Extraordinary Copy of the First Edition of the Second Volume of the "Federalist Papers," Entirely Uncut and Unopened 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. II. New-York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, 1788.

    First collected edition of the "Federalist Papers" -- "the most famous and influential American political work" (Howes). One of 500 copies printed. Volume II only (of two). Twelvemo in sixes (7.5 x 4.4375 inches; 190 x 114 mm.). [2, blank], vi, 384 pages. The initial blank leaf is present and not used as the pastedown, as in some copies (the initial blank leaf and the title leaf appear to be conjugate, as do the two contents leaves, with the first contents leaf signed "a2"). In this copy, "NUMBER LXX" is incorrectly printed as "NUMBER LXXX" on page 240.

    In the last two gatherings, watermarks of Delaware's first paper mill, Joshua Gilpin & Company, are visible: the top of a fleur-de-lis on leaves Hh4 and Ii4, "BRANDYWINE" across leaves Hh5 and Hh6, and "J G & Co" on leaf Ii6.

    Entirely uncut and unopened, in the original publisher's pale gray-green paper boards with cream-colored paper spine. The volume number "2" is stamped in black ink on the spine, as issued. The spine is a little darkened and rubbed, but with absolutely no chipping or loss; the corners are lightly rubbed; there are a few areas of slight discoloration and a few tiny stains on the front board, a larger, darker stain and a few scuff marks or scratches on the rear board; there is dampstaining to the upper portion of the rear board, resulting in very slight bowing to the top inch or so; dampstaining is also visible on the spine, in the upper and outer margins of the front free endpaper, the upper portion of the rear endpapers, and very faintly on the verso of the last leaf of text.

    The text is slightly browned, as usual, with some offsetting; some very minor chipping or fraying to the uncut edges; a few very faint ink smudges or spots in the outer blank margin of pages 157, 160, and 337; a few very occasional faint fox marks.

    Several leaves were lightly creased horizontally or diagonally before printing, sometimes affecting a few words, but with no loss: E2 (pages 51/52), E5 (pages 57/58), H2 (pages 87/88), K1 (pages 109/110), K3 (pages 113/114), R2 (pages 195/196), X2 (pages 243/244), and Z2 (pages 267/268). Leaf M3 (pages 137/138) and the upper corner of M4 (139/140) were creased diagonally after printing and before binding.

    There are a few marginal paper flaws, none affecting any text: lower corner of I3 (pages 101/102) folded up; small portion of the outer blank margin of O3 (pages 161/162) torn away; short tear to the outer blank margin of O4 (pages 163/164); tiny hole in the outer blank margin of P4 (pages 175/176); tiny portion of the outer blank margin of R5 (pages 201/202) torn away; small piece torn from the upper blank margin of S3 (pages 209/210); paper flaw to the lower corner of Cc6 (pages 311/312); short tear to the lower blank margin of Hh4 (pages [367]/368)

    Otherwise, this extraordinary copy, remarkably well preserved, is in very fine and very fresh condition, totally untouched and unsophisticated. With a blue ink stamp on the verso of the title-page: "Sold by order of / Directors Sept. 19, 1924."

    "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).

    "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).

    "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 fifty 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), page 815).

    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).

    Church 1230. Evans 21127. 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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2010
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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