Red-letter day for ‘Black tulip’

Edgar Allen Poe’s book from 1827, referred to as the ‘Black tulip of
US literature,’ fetches a record $662,500 at auction

AN 1827 first edition copy of poems by Edgar Allan Poe sold for $662,500 recntly, setting a record for a 19th century book of poetry, said a spokeswoman for Christie’s auction house.

Tamerlane and Other Poems, Poe’s first book as an author, was sold to an unidentified American collector.

Only a dozen copies of the book exist from that first edition, said Jessie Edelman of Christie’s.

According to Francis Wahlgren, head of books and manuscripts at Christie’s in New York, the copy is so rare that is often referred to as the "black tulip of American literature," reports the Telegraph.

A signed four-page letter written by George Washington to his nephew in 1787 sold for $3.2 million. The letter by the first US president was estimated to sell for $1.5 million to $2.5 million, and smashed the previous 2002 record of $834,500 for a Washington document, Christie’s said.

Poe, who readers worldwide know for his lyrical works about the macabre, is believed to have begun his writing career at the age of 18 by printing only 50 copies of his first book of poems.

He did not attach his name to those books, which indicated their authorship was from "A Bostonian."

Poe had moved to Boston, the city where he was born, after leaving his foster parents’ Richmond, Virginia, home.

The 40-page Tamerlane and Other Poems was inspired by the work of British poet Lord Byron, and the title poem is about an historical conqueror, who laments the loss of his first love.

The book, which has been stained and frayed with the decades, came from the library of William E. Self, a televsion and film producer.

Poe’s most famous poem is The Raven, but he also wrote stories The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. An Olivetti typewriter used by the American writer Cormac McCarthy to write nearly his entire body of work sold for $254,500, while a very rare manuscript of author Vladimir Nabokov’s last, unfinished and unpublished novel, The Original of Laura failed to sell.

McCarthy, who told Christie’s he would continue to write on a newer, but similar typewriter, is donating the proceeds to the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit scientific research organization.

The McCarthy typewriter was sold at the Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, including Americana auction, while the works by Poe came from a separate sale of the library of William E. Self. — Reuters