A Week on the Concord and Merrimack River, by Henry David Thoreau
First edition, First Issue (1849), printed by James Munroe & Co., Boston.
Hardcover in very good condition (see condition notes below).
Written while he was living in his cabin at Walden Pond in Concord, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" was Thoreau's first book. Unable to obtain a publisher, Thoreau paid out of his pocket and hired Boston Publisher James Munroe to print the book for him. Munroe refused to market the book for Thoreau, but printed 1,000 copies for Thoreau. Of these, 550 were initially bound, and the remaining 450 copies remained in loose sheets.
Without a traditional publisher to do the work and promotion for him, Thoreau struggled to sell "A Week". He gave away 75 copies but by 1853 only 219 more copies had sold. Munroe, who had been storing the extra copies in his basement for nearly two years, told Thoreau to come pick them up. Thoreau hired a horse and cart and transported the remaining 706 copies (450 of which were still in sheets) to his family's house in Concord prompting his famous October 28, 1853 journal entry, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.”
By the time of his death in 1862, Thoreau had sold or given away only another 111 copies. Ticknor and Fields bought the remaining 450 sets of sheets and 145 bound copies, and reissued the unbound copies with a cancelled title page carrying their own imprint.
The copy in this listing is one of the first 550 bound copies of "A Week On The Concord and Merrimack Rivers" and contains the original James Munroe 1849 title page.
The original brown cloth has been rebacked, preserving most of the original spine and the original endpapers. The covers are blindstamped with an elaborate design of plumes and scrolls with an oval-shaped scroll design in the center, all within a five-rule border. There is a 19th century church library blindstamp on the title-page and on a couple of internal pages. On the front pastedown is the bookplate of Edward Borncamp [the curate of the church from 1897-1903]. There is some discoloration and offsetting to the endpapers and evidence of an earlier removal from the front pastedown beneath the aforementioned bookplate. Otherwise the book is very clean inside; some pages, (including the ad at the back of the book for the upcoming "Walden"), are still uncut.
Photographs with the pennies highlight uncorrected words that were changed in later printings of the book.
A truely special piece of Thoreau's hist