The Backwoodsman

Philadelphia: M. Thomas, 1818. [4],198pp. Contemporary red morocco, ornately tooled in gilt with owner's name on front cover; sympathetically rebacked with original spine laid down. Front hinge cracked, corners lightly worn. Light scattered foxing. About very good. Item #1187

First edition of James Kirke Paulding's romance of the frontier in a handsome early American bespoke binding. Paulding is perhaps most remembered for his collaboration with his friend Washington Irving on the satirical periodical Salmagundi (1807-1808). He was also, however, a prolific writer of fiction, poetry, drama, travel, and biography, and he served as Secretary of the Navy from 1838 to 1841. The present work is intended to inspire a sort of nativism in the reader, drawing on "the rich poetic resources with which [this country] abounds." The Backwoodsman is thus an extended lyrical treatment of the American landscape, punctuated by stirring speeches of Native Americans threatening settlers with scalping.

This copy is bound in contemporary red morocco, tooled on the boards with a double border of Greek key pattern, with delicate florets in the compartments of the spine. The cover bears the ownership tooling of "Miss Mary Whittle." Miss Whittle was obviously a bibliophile of discerning taste, as the book is handsomely bound. A nice example of American binding from this period on the text of an aspiring American epic.

Shaw & Shoemaker 45217. BAL 15694 (State A). Wegelin 1081. Stoddard 1200.

Price: $850.00