Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1829)


This volume was published late in 1829. The number of copies printed is not known, though an estimate of 500 or fewer copies is reasonable. According to Poe’s letter to John Allan (Poe to John Allan, November 18, 1829), Poe was been promised 250 copies of the book to sell for his own profit, though it is quite likely that Poe, typical for all his dealings with Allan, may be exaggerating here. Fewer than 30 copies are known to exist today. A facsimile of this book has been printed.

Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1829)

There are at least two known presentation copies: (1) Poe to John Neal (with manuscript changes in “Tamerlane,” and “To — — [”I saw thee on thy bridal day”); (2) Poe to Elizabeth Herring, “For my cousin Elizabeth.  E. A. Poe.” Poe borrowed back the second of these presentation copies to use in preparing The Raven and Other Poems (1845), strongly suggesting that Poe himself had not retained a copy. Poe also appears to have altered the date on the title page of this copy from 1829 to 1820, presumably for his 1845 reading at the Boston Lyceum. The details of this reading are somewhat complicated. Essentially, Poe had been requested to recite a poem at the Boston Lyceum on October 16, 1845. Although he was paid $50 to present a new poem, he was apparently unable to compose one of appropriate merit in the allotted time. Instead, he recited “Al Aaraaf,” renamed as “The Messenger Star of Tycho Brahe.” The response, as Poe probably expected, was mixed. Afterward, he claimed that the whole thing was a hoax to test the cultural integrity of the “Frogpondians.” He further claimed that the poem read had been written when he was only 10 years old. The title page was perhaps altered as substantiation. There is also a secondary presentation copy, from Poe’s sister Rosalie to someone whose name can no longer be read: “Presented to E. [name erased,] by her Friend Rose M. Poe.” The identity of the recipient is not known, although it is likely E. Shannon, It is not known where Rosalie obtained a copy, though it is certainly reasonable that Edgar gave it to her.


Bibliographic Data:

8vo. (8 in x 5 in). Pages [1]-71. Bindings: Yellow cloth; Paper boards in blue-green, lavender, and tan sprinkled with red. Paper is watermarked “AMIES PHILADA.”


Census of Copies:

This census is believed to record all known surviving copies of Al Aaraaf, amerlane and Minor Poems . The provenance of each entry is established as authoritatively as possible, given the sketchy and often convoluted bits of information available. In nearly all case, the chain of owners has gaps, especially among the early owners, whose names are generally known only if the owner left an inscription.

  • Columbia University Library, New York (This copy was presented by Rosalie M. Poe to a friend, probably E. Shannon of Oakland.) Frederick William French (1842-1900), sold by Libbie & Co. (Boston, MA) on April 23-25, 1901, item 1304, for $1,300 (Jacob Chester Chamberlain (1860-1905) (sold Feb. 16, 1909, item 704, for $2,900); Walter Thomas Wallace (1866-1922) (sold on March 22, 1920, item 1026, for $1,800); Frank Brewer Bemis (1861-1935) (purchased in 1920 from an auction at the Anderson Galleries); Francis Joseph Hogan (1877-1944); Given to Columbia Library by Solton and Julia Engle
  • Poe Foundation, Richmond, VA (The book was listed in the Poe Census of 1933 by Heartman and Rede) General Brayton Ives (1840-1914), at various times the president of the Northern Pacific Railway, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Western National Bank of New York, noted as in boards (his library was sold by American Art Association (New York, NY), April 7, 1915, item 780, for $835; Walter Martin Hill (1868-1952) (purchased from the Ives sale); John Wooster Robertson (1856-1941) (purchased from W. M. Hill); donated to the Poe Museum by Robertson in 1927.
  • George Peabody Library, Baltimore, MD (acquired prior to 1933, when it was listed in the Poe Census by Heartman and Rede) (although the Peabody Library had a strong personal connection to Poe’s friend John P. Kennedy, and inherited numerous items from his estate, this book does not appear to have come from Kennedey’s Library)
  • Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA (Thomas Jefferson McKee, sold on Nov. 22-23, 1900, item 592, for 1,100); Anderson; Frederick R. Halsey) (acquired prior to 1921, when it was listed in The Book Collector’s Guide, by Seymour De Ricci, Philadelphia, Rosenbach Company, 1921, p. 443)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (Originally John Hill Hewitt’s copy; William T. H. Howe) (Howe acquired the book prior to 1933, when it was listed in the Poe Census by Heartman and Rede)
  • Albert Berg Collection, New York Public Library (Originally Elizabeth Herring’s copy. The date on the title page has been altered to 1820, probably by Poe.) (Herring; Poe; Griswold; George Henry Moore, Feb. 5, 1894, item 1934 (sold for $75); William Nelson of Patterson, NJ and possibly tranferred to H. Peirce (sold May 5, 1903 for $1,825); Maier (purchased about 1905 from George H. Richmond (1849-1904), the dealer who bought it from the Nelson sale) (Maier’s library was sold at auction on Nov. 16-17 and 22-23, 1909. The book is in part II of the sale, as item 1691. A photograph of the altered title page is used as the frontispiece for the catalog); Wakeman (purchased November 25, 1909 for $2,900); unknown buyer, probably Owen D. Young, 1924, purchased for $2,900 the same price as Wakeman had paid) (This copy has been damaged by smoke and heat, from a fire in the home of William Nelson.) (according to the catalog for the Moore sale, the copy was unbound, and half-titles were provided from a second copy.) (Owen D. Young acquired the book prior to 1933, when it was listed in the Poe Census by Heartman and Rede)
  • New York Public Library. (Rebound in blue morocco). (Evert A. Duyckinck copy, stolen in 1931 and recovered in 1934. Harry Gold, a second-hand book dealer on Fourth Avenue, went to prison for receipt of stolen goods.) (This copy is the one listed in the 1933 Poe Census by Heartman and Rede)
  • Beinecke Library, Yale University, Aldis Collection  Original board covers with cloth spine, in Solander case. (This is the copy which was used for the 1933 facsimile, edited by T. O. Mabbott) (Owen Franklin Aldis (1852-1925), with his bookplate) (presented by Aldis to Yale about November 24, 1911, acccording to the Yale Alumni Weekly of that date). (This may be the Hermann copy.)
  • Beinecke Library, Yale University (second copy) variant paper on boards, In slip-case. John Gribbel (1858-1936), an American industrialist and philanthropist in Philadelphia, PA, with his bookplate (sold at auction, October 30-31 and Nov. 1, 1940, item 536, for $3,700); Charles Jacob Rosenbloom (1898–1973), with his bookplate (apparently bequeathed by Rosenbloom to Yale in his will. Rosenbloom was a Yale graduate.)
  • Chapin Library, Williams College (rebound in blue morocco) (Foote copy) Charles Benjamin Foote (1837-1900) (Foote’s copy was sold on November 23, 1894, item 205, for $150) Foote purchased his copy from a sale of the library of General Winfield Scott. It was rebound by William Matthews. (acquired prior to 1933, when it was listed in the Poe Census by Heartman and Rede)
  • Houghton Library, Harvard University (W. A. White copy) William Augustus White (1843-1927), Brooklyn, NY, specializing in Elizabethan books.
  • Richard Gimbel Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia (Gimbel owned a full copy as well as what are described as “Uncut leaves from Al Aaraaf . . . probably a copy given to Poe by the publisher as part of their general arrangement.” This uncut copy is noted as item 13 in the catalogue of Gimbel’s 1959 exhibit.
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center,, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Rebound with several works not related to Poe: Society for the Prevention of Pauperism in the City of Baltimore. Views of the Society. Baltimore, 1822) (Poe to John Neal) (Mabbott states that this copy has several manuscript corrections by Poe, although J. Moldenhauer accepts only the correction to the footnote on p. 26 as being by Poe.)
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Wolf copy; William H. Koester) (This copy surfaced in 1913, the property of Adeline and Alvina Wolf (or Wolfe), a mother and daughter living at the time in Washington, D.C. but formerly of Baltimore. In some articles, they are incorrectly identified as sisters. Adeline may have been the wife of Marcus Wolf, who is listed in the 1833 Baltimore City Directory as a victualler, someone who provides food and beverage supplies for ship, living in the area of Gallows Hill. The family claimed that Poe often visited them while he lived in Baltimore and that he gave them the book, although it is not inscribed. It does bear the names “Adeline Wolf and Alvina Wolf.” A dealer is said to have paid $2,000 to purchase the copy. These details are noted in an article in the Dial. The dealer was John True Loomis (1861-1941). According to Heartman and Canny, 1941, p. 21, this copy was purchased by Koester from George C. Smith, Jr. sale, American Art Association, November 23-24, 1937. In that sale, the book was item 355, and was sold for $2,600.)
  • Regenstein Library, University of Chicago (untrimmed and unbound sheets, measuring 8 1/2 in x 5 1/4 in.) (Locker-Lampson; John A. Spoor-Thoms & Eron; Chrysler; William Stockhauser copy, sold in 1974 for $40,000) (Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-1895) claimed that he obtained his copy through R. H. Stoddard. (A catalog of the Locker-Lampson library was printed in 1886.) (The fact that Stoddard owned the volume is verified by an autographed receipt in which Stoddard sells the 1829 and 1831 volumes of Poe’s poems to a Mr. Coombes, who in turn sold them to R. W. Gredes, on September 29, 1880. The receipt accompanies the volume of the 1831 Poems owned by John Neal.) The library of John Alden Spoor (1851-1926), of Chicago, was sold by Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York on May 3-5, 1939, to Thoms and Eron.)
  • Library of Congress (Western Ontario; Hersholt copy) (This copy was sold to the LOC by actor Jean Pierre Hersholt (1886-1956) in April 1954. His library was sold by Parke-Bernet, New York, in 1954.)
  • J. K. Lilly Library, Indiana University (J. Dryden Hess; Charles Eliot Goodspeed (purchased about September 1933. Goodspeed offered it to Lilly in 1933 for $3,750, Lilly declined. The book was restored by Riviere and offered again to Lilly); Josiah Kirby Lilly (1893-1966) (purchased in 1934 for $3,000)
  • Susan Jaffe Tane (Florence and George Blumenthal; H. Bradley Martin; current owner, 1990) (Listed in the 1992 catalogue of the 19th century bookshop for $120,000)

In additon to the entries listed above, there are early sales reports of several copies that are presumably accounted for above but not clearly associated with the chain of provenance for any of these copies.

  • Libbie's (Boston, MA), April 2, 1890, item 893; resold by Stan V. Henkles, November 15, 1912, item 708, noted as in boards, uncut, foxed and with two ink-stains
  • H. Rush Kervey, of West Chester, PA, sold by Stan V. Henkels, March 1, 1909, item 754A), noted as in boards, trimmed
  • William Hermann, of White Plains, NY, sold by Anderson Auction Co. (New York), March 18, 1909, item 473, noted as in boards, trimmed (the catalog entry notes that the book is “preserved in a dark red, straight-grained morocco gilt solander case by Stikeman.” The book was purchased by George D. Smith for $1,460. (This may be the Aldis copy, now at Yale)
  • Amor Leander Hollingsworth (1837-1907) of Milton, MA, president of Tileston & Hollingsworth (a paper manufacturing firm), sold by Libbie's (Boston, MA), April 12-14, 1910. (Hollingsworth was a graduate of Harvard, and a member of the Grolier Club, the Club of Odd Volumes, and the Caxton Club); purchased by bookdealer George D. Smith for $785.
  • Arthur Barnett Spingarn (1878-1971), sold by Walpole Galleries (New York, NY), May 1, 1917, item 226 (apparently sold to help finance his wedding); W. H. Lowdermilk & Co. (Washington, DC), purchased from the Walpole sale, for $925. (Although the New York Times for May 2, 1917 states that the buyer at the Walpole sale was a “Mr. Lowdermilk of Washington, D. C.,” it was probably Mr. John T. Loomis, the managing partner of W. H. Lowdermilk & Co. after the death of William Harrison Lowdermilk in 1897) (The Walpole sale claims that the copy was “originally in the possession of a Baltimore merchant, at whose house Poe was a visitor,” but not identified by name and not supported by other details.)



  • Anonymous, “High Prices Paid for Poe Manuscripts,” Black Diamond Express Monthly (Lehigh Valley Railroad), vol. VII, no. 6, June 1903, pp. 17-18
  • Anonymous, “The Story of a Rare Copy of ‘Al Aaraaf’,” Dail, vol. LIV, whole no. 644, April 16, 1913, p. 333. (The claims about a personal connection to Poe may have been exaggerated, and have not been substantiated. The story may have been instigated by the dealer, hoping to arouse publicity.)
  • Anonymous, “Pay $8,000 for Vase at Ives Art Sale,” New York Times, April 9, 1915, p. 8 (notes the purchase of the Ives copy of ATMP by Walter Martin Hill)
  • Anonymous, “Pays $925 for Poe’s Poems,” New York Times, May 2, 1917 (notes the purchase of the Spingarn copy of ATMP by “Mr. Lowdermilk of Washington, D. C.”)
  • American Art Association Auction Catalogue, The Stephen H. Wakeman Collection of Books of Nineteenth Century American Writers, April 1924, item 936. (Includes a small reproduction of the title page, with altered date.)
  • Blanck, Jacob, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Bibliography of American Literature ; volume 7: James Kirke Paulding to Frank Richard Stockton, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983, p. 115. (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship.)
  • Gimbel, Col. Richard, “Quoth the Raven,” An Exhibition of the Work of Edgar Allan Poe,” The Yale University Gazette, XXX, no. 4, April 1959, pp. 138-189. (The two items for Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems are 12 and 13, on page 142. A letter from Rosalie to E. Shannon, suggesting the name in the inscription noted above, is item 8, on page 141.)
  • Gordon, John D., “Edgar Allan Poe: A Catalogue of First Editions, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters from the Berg Collection,” New York: The New York Public Library, 1949, p. 6.
  • Harrison, James Albert, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol I - Biography, New York: T. Y Crowell, 1902.
  • Heartman, Charles F and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1943, pp. 22-26. (Reprinted, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1977.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Bibliographical Note,” Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, New York: The Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1932.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Digressions, A: The Herring Al Aaraaf,” The Raven and Other Poems, New York: The Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1942, pp. xxiii-xxv.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume I: Poetry, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
  • Mouldenhauer, Joseph J., A Descriptive Catalog of Edgar Allan Poe Manuscripts in the Humanities Research Center Library, The University of Texas at Austin, 1973, p. 85, item 102. (Describes the Neal copy.)
  • 19th Century Bookshop sale Catalogue, The Poe Catalogue, Baltimore, 1992, pp. 14-15. (Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems is item 19. The price guide lists it for $120,000.)
  • Quoth the Raven: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Edgar Allan Poe Collection, 1997, pp. 18-20.
  • Robertson, John Wooster, Edgar A. Poe: A Study, San Francisco, CA: Privately Printed, 1921, pp. 188-194.
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children’s Literature, New York, January 30 and 31, 1990, item 2192.
  • Tane, Susan Jaffe and Gabriel Mckee, Evermore: The Persistence of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: The Golier Club, 2014, item 49.



[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1829)