The Herman Melville Collection of William S. Reese is the most important such collection in private hands. Reese acquired the first of these items at auction in December, 1986. It was Herman Melville's copy of Obed Macy's History of Nantucket — given to Melville by Obed's son Thomas Macy, possibly in exchange for a copy of Moby-Dick. Over the following decades, the Melville collection grew to include first editions of all of Melville’s works (including the superlatively rare John Marr and Timoleon), numerous original letters, inscribed presentation copies, books annotated by Melville, works by the Moby-Dick illustrator Rockwell Kent, and a small cache of Melville and Gansevoort family material.
Highlights include Melville’s annotated copy of Dante; a presentation copy of Typee — Melville’s first book — inscribed for Charles Ball, who was captain of the whaling ship on which Herman’s younger brother sailed; an autograph letter to Richard Bentley, 10 November 1849, in which Melville arranges his first meeting with the man who would become the publisher of The Whale; a unique copy of the Lakeside Press Moby-Dick bound in white leather; and an original shop sign for Melville’s father’s French goods store.
Selected items will be on preview at Christie’s King Street from 9-12 July.
Orders for the hard-cover catalogue may be placed here.