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    Phillis Wheatley. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. By Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England. London: Printed for A. Bell, Bookseller, Aldgate; and sold by Messrs. Cox and Berry, King-Street, Boston, 1773. First edition, Stoddard's Edition 1. Octavo (approximately 6.875 x 4.375 inches; 174 x 110 mm.). v, [1, "Letter sent by the Author's Master to the Publisher"], [1, "To the Publick" (an attestation)], [1, blank], [9]-124, [3, Contents], [1, publisher's advertisements] pages. Signatures: [A]4 B-Q4. Engraved frontispiece portrait, State B, of the author after a drawing by Scipio Moorhead. Contemporary polished sprinkled calf. Covers with single gilt-dotted rule border; spine with slightly raised bands between gilt-dotted rules and red morocco label ruled and lettered in gilt; board edges decoratively tooled in blind; sprinkled edges.

    Binding somewhat rubbed; front cover with a few scuff marks and three tiny white dots; rear cover with three tiny wormholes; small piece missing at head of spine; endbands exposed at each end; joints cracked, with rear joint holding firm, and front joint loose. Hinges cracked; endpapers and first and last few leaves browned around the edges from turn-ins. Frontispiece browned; occasional additional browning and foxing; small ink spots in the upper margin of page 24; small stain in the lower margin of H2 and H3 (pages 59/60 and 61/62), due to paper flaw on page 60; a few small stains and marginal smudges. Worming to front board, pastedown and free endpaper, frontispiece (affecting left border and a small portion of the ink well and paper in the portrait), title leaf (just touching double rule), continuing throughout the text, becoming one small wormhole, and then increasing in size at the end, to rear pastedown and board; pinhole worming in the upper corner throughout and intermittently in the lower corner. F1 (pages 41/42) with half-inch tear to lower margin near gutter and tiny creased tear at lower edge; small hole (paper flaw) in the blank outer margin of D2 (pages 27/28); tiny ding to outer edge of leaves (pages 31/32 and 33/34). Vertical crease down the outer margin of a few leaves, sometimes affecting a couple of letters; a few upper corners creased. Still, all in all, this is a wonderful, totally unsophisticated, copy, complete with the frontispiece portrait and attestation leaf, and quite uncommon in this condition.

    From the library of John C. Shields (1944-2017), with his name and the date "June, 1983" in ink on the front pastedown. Shields was Distinguished Professor of English at Illinois State University, widely known for his groundbreaking work on Phillis Wheatley.

    Blockson, A Commented Bibliography of One Hundred and One Influential Books By and About People of African Descent (1556-1982), 101; ESTC T153734; Sabin 103136; Stoddard & Whitesell 236/237; Wegelin 432.

    More Information:

    Roger Stoddard (in Roger E. Stoddard and David R. Whitesell, A Bibliographical Description of Books and Pamphlets of American Verse Printed from 1610 through 1820 (University Park, Pennsylvania: 2012), pages 243-247) notes that there are two 1773 editions of Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, two states of the frontispiece portrait, and many variants. "Edition 2 (entry 237) is a line-for-line resetting (with minor textual variants) of Edition 1 (entry 236), except that pp. [iv]-[vii] appear to be in identical setting. The two editions can be easily distinguished by the imprint spacing and the direction of the chainlines...[T]he copper plate was re-worked in order to strengthen the lines for second impression, creating two states."

    This copy is Stoddard's Edition 1, with the vertical distance between the "London" and "Printed" lines in the title-page imprint being 3 mm. and the chainlines in signatures [A], O-Q vertical, and in signatures B-N horizontal. In addition, on page 9, line 3 measures 75 mm.; page 10, last line ends "surprize;"; page 12, bracket measures 1.5 cm.; page 29, catchword is "Not"; page 41, line 190 is not numbered; page 71, line 45 is not numbered; page 96, line 23 begins "Their G_____y!"; page 105, line 84 ends "pay?"; and page 121, line 36 ends "around,". The copyright statement on page [2] is State A, reading "Stationer's"; the ads on page [128] are State A, beginning: "Lately Published, (Price 5s. sewed.) / In two Volumes, 12mo. / The / Memoirs / of / Miss / Williams". The engraved frontispiece portrait is State B, with diagonal crosshatching behind the subject on the right side.

    John C. Shields was the author of Phillis Wheatley's Poetics of Liberation (2008); Phillis Wheatley and the Romantics (Tennessee: 2010); editor of The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley (Oxford, 1988), and coeditor (with Eric D. Lamore) of New Essays on Phillis Wheatley (Tennessee, 2011); and numerous articles.

    Armorial bookplate on front pastedown of Alfred [Newman] Gilbey (1901-1998), British Roman Catholic priest and monsignor. Gilbey was the longest-serving chaplain to the University of Cambridge, England, and has been described as the best-known Roman Catholic priest in England during the last quarter of the twentieth century (see Wikipedia).

    Early ink signature of "Rob[er]t Bowman / [illegible] / [illegible]" and additional ink name: "Maria," with a few additional letters, on front free endpaper.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2017
    14th Thursday
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