Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: David McKay to Walt Whitman, 21 July 1891

Date: July 21, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03131

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ian Faith, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock



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Book Exchange.
Old Books Bought,
Sold and Exchanged.
DAVID MCKAY,
Successor to REES WELSH & CO.'S Miscellaneous Business,
Publisher & Bookseller,
23 South Ninth St.,
Philadelphia

July 21
1891

Mr Walt Whitman
Camden N.J.
Dear Sir

We have an order for 6 Copies of Complete works1 in sheets. Kindly give bearer an order on Oldach2 & Co. for same and oblige

Yours & etc
David McKay


Correspondent:
David McKay (1860–1918) took over Philadelphia-based publisher Rees Welsh's bookselling and publishing businesses in 1881–2. McKay and Rees Welsh published the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass after opposition from the Boston District Attorney prompted James R. Osgood & Company of Boston, the publisher Whitman had originally contracted with for publication of the volume, to withdraw. McKay also went on to publish Specimen Days & Collect, November Boughs, Gems from Walt Whitman, and Complete Prose Works. For more information about McKay, see Joel Myerson, "McKay, David (1860–1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Whitman often referred to Complete Poems & Prose (1888) as his "big book." The volume was published by the poet himself in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions, and Frederick Oldach bound the volume, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary. [back]

2. Frederick Oldach (1823–1907) was a German bookbinder whose Philadelphia firm bound Whitman's November Boughs (1888) and Complete Poems & Prose (1888), as well as the special seventieth-birthday issue of Leaves of Grass (1889). [back]


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