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Autograph Leaves of Our Country’s Authors
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Bliss & Kennedy. Autograph Leaves of our Country’s Authors – Association Copy

First Publication of any
Gettysburg Address
Manuscripts in Facsimile


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Product Description

Bliss, Alexander & Kennedy, John Pendleton, eds. and intro.  AUTOGRAPH LEAVES OF OUR COUNTRY’S AUTHORS. Baltimore: Cushings & Bailey, 1864.  Quarto ; ix, [1], 200(1) pages; original brown cloth with gold-embossed front board & spine; t.e.g. 

Colonel Bliss (Daniel Webster’s law partner) and author Kennedy devised a plan to solicit original manuscripts from the leading American authors and then to lithograph them for a book to be sold for the benefit of the Sanitary Fair to be held in Baltimore. 

Noted statesman and author George Bancroft asked The President to write out the text of his Gettysburg Address.  On February 29, 1864, Lincoln responded, “Herewith is the copy of the manuscript which you did me the honor to request.”  When it was found that the Bancroft copy of the manuscript did not correspond to the form they wished, Kennedy wrote to Lincoln, explaining the problem.  The President wrote the speech once again; that copy, now known as the Bliss copy, appears on pages III, IV, and V of this book—the first publication of any of the Gettysburg Address manuscripts in facsimile. 

Other authors in facsimile manuscripts include: Francis Scott Key, Edward Everett, Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Audubon, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Longfellow, Melville, Emerson, and others—92 in all.

This is a true relic of the war; a classy production whose proceeds were entirely for the aid of soldiers and their families. The original manuscripts were also to be sold, but they fared poorly.  The Bliss copy was later sold at auction and purchased by a Cuban émigré, who donated the original to the White House.  One of the more unique and desirable Lincoln collectibles!

This copy is of particular note as is bears the bookplate of Carroll Atwood Wilson (1886-1947). Wilson, an important Massachusetts attorney with ties to the Guggenheim Brothers, served as Vice president and director at American Smelting and Refining Company; as well as a trustee John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Foundation.

Wilson was also a book collector; his specialty being American literary first editions, he was also considered a “master of bibliography.”

He published a descriptive catalogue of the works of Thomas Hardy and is the author of First Appearance in Print of some Four Hundred Familiar Quotations. The latter was really the description of an exhibition which he had arranged The Olin Memorial Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. Additionally, he was responsible for other famous exhibitions at the Grolier Club.

He was a vice-president of the Bibliographical Society of America, the chairman of its publication committee, and the chairman of its committee to prepare a definitive bibliography of American first editions. His personal interests were frequently unorthodox, as is illustrated by the bibliography of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas which he had nearly ready for publication at the time of his death. He was so important to the Bibliographical Society of America, that they printed a 17-page memorial essay after his death; also included with this item. 

Additionally, the book is inscribed to someone and that inscription is dated “April 1864.” The Sanitary Fair ran from April 18-30 that year, so this copy was probably purchased at the Sanitary Fair. Although tough to decipher, we are sure it must have been inscribed by and or for someone important. Given Mr. Wilson knowledge of rare books he probably would have had a very special copy of this important book.

This copy has head and tailband  wear, light rubbing and bumping, the usual foxing to pages, else, very good; the end sheets and fly sheets are unusually nice.