Sunday, June 15, 2008
Letters From Beyond: Edgar Allan Poe
This incredible letter from Edgar Allan Poe was offered in Charles Hamilton's 43rd auction, held on the 23rd of July, 1970. An amazing document, it's described as being 'almost 1 full page, Philadelphia, Saturday Morning, August 26 (1843).' This is an unpublished letter and states, "I am obliged to go to Richmond for a few weeks on pressing business, and all the money I can raise I am forced to take with me. I leave this note, however, with my mother-in-law, Mrs Clemm, who will hand it to you.If you can spare he amount for the article I left with you please do so," It then goes on to reveal something amazing in the postscript, "Patterson, of 'The Post', gave me, some weeks ago, for 'The Black Cat', 20$. I presume the article you have is worth as much - being longer and, I think, better."
I'm sure you can spot what makes this as desirable as anything else I've covered from the Charles Hamilton auctions - in this letter Poe claims that he was paid a pittance, a mere $20, for one of his most enduring works. This letter sold for an equally amazing sum of $5,250 back in 1970, which was an incredible amount of money and clearly far more than Poe probably saw for a single piece of work in his lifetime. What can I say? At least he got paid more for The Black Cat than I did for my first book...still, not a good thing to read really, but thankfully this letter was preserved for prosperity and it does show that bent publishers aren't a new invention.