Lot 6216
US$ 10,000 - 15,000
£6,000 - 8,900
Auction Details
Lot Details
Extensive library including three first issues of Two Years Before the Mast, a presentation copy, dozens of lifetime editions, a first edition Seaman's Friend owned and signed by Franklin Roosevelt, together with autograph letters to his daughter and others, related ephemera and reference.
1. Two Years Before the Mast. A Personal History of Life at Sea. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1840. 12mo (153 x 98 mm). [2] blank, 483 pp. Original tan muslin lettered in black. Custom clamshell box. Scattered light foxing, joint cracked.
Provenance: Henry Ware III (gift inscription from Mrs. E.F. Channing of Cambridge dated November 1840).
FINE FIRST STATE OF THE FIRST EDITION, with three lists of Harpers' Family Library on back cover numbered 1-105, 1-36, and 1-27. Dotted "i" in copyright line and unbroken running head at p 9. The provenance is interesting, the giver was probably family member of William Ellery Channing, the influential abolitionist and preacher who in turn was both a distant cousin and a friend of Dana, all of Cambridge. BAL 4434B; Cowan 1:156; Johnson High Spots 26.2
2. Three further copies of the Harper & Brothers 1840 edition of Two Years Before the Mast: a first issue in tan muslin with back cover ad lists numbered to 121; another first issue in BAL "binding a" of black cloth, with dotted "i" on copyright page; a second issue in period sheep, with undotted "i." The copy in black cloth also has interesting provenance, it is inscribed on the front free endpaper: "Mrs A. Carrington / Sept 29, 1840" and below that, "from her cousin Mrs R.H. Dana." Dana married Sarah Watson in 1841.
3. 19 further lifetime editions of Two Years Before the Mast, including the first English edition, a rare 1841 pirated English edition (Cunningham), and a PRESENTATION COPY of the 1869 Boston edition by Fields, Osgood. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "Mr Samuel P. Dawson / with the kindest regards of the narrator / R.H. Dana Jr / June 5, 1869." This edition, published 28 years after the first edition was the first one published after the copyright reverted to Dana. In the new preface, Dana himself refers to it as the "first Author's edition," so it is fitting that he chooses this edition for a presentation copy. We trace only one other presentation copy of Two Years Before the Mast in auction records for the past 30 years. It includes Dana's account of his 1859 journey to California.
4. The Seaman's Friend.... Boston: Little, Brown & Loring. New York: Dayton & Saxton. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, [1841]. 223 pp. Five plates. Period sheep. Mild foxing, spine head chipped.
Provenance: Charles L. Williams (two ownership inscriptions dated Oct 7, 1841); FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (ownership signature dated from Hyde Park, 1931).
5. Autograph Letter Signed ("R.H. Dana Jr."), 1 p, 8vo (conjoined address leaf), Old State House, Nov 27, 1841, to J. Hillard, regarding settlement in the suit of Delano. Dana was a practicing lawyer specializing in maritime law, especially justice for seamen.
6. Three Autograph Letters Signed ("R.H. Dana Jr" and "R.H.D. Jr"), 17 pp recto and verso, 8vo (conjoined leaves), Boston and Manchester, 1872-1874, to his daughter, Elizabeth Ellery Dana [1846-1939]. Lengthy and affectionate letters full of family gossip, advice, and details of his travel.
7. Nearly 200 additional items, being further editions (including some fine press) of Dana's works plus a number of Dana's periodical appearances and references. A full listing of the copies of Two Years Before the Mast is available on request.

An outstanding collection, a tribute to one of the most admirable men in 19th century American letters and, in particular, to his principal work, Two Years Before the Mast. Dana's narrative of a voyage to Alta California in 1834-36 was one of the first to come from a deckhand rather than a ship's officer or passenger, and gives a clear picture of California in the years just prior to the influx of American settlers in the 1840s. It was a best-seller in its day, with over 175,000 copies sold in the first ten years after publication.
  1. Catherine Williamson
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    7601 W. Sunset Boulevard
    Los Angeles, 90046
    United States
    Work +1 323 436 5442
    FaxFax: +1 323 850 5843
Similar items