Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Frederick Oldach, 16 May 1889

Date: May 16, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03392

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: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Alex Ashland, Ryan Furlong, and Stephanie Blalock

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328 Mickle Street
May 16 '89

Dear Sir

This sample of your binding (old fashion'd pocket-book style with ordinary tongue or tuck-flap, all holding snug, but not too tight or stiff) is satisfactory & suits me best.1 The dark green morocco, if you have it already, will do—but if you have to get it get a lighter green. Bind the whole ed'n alike, no variety. Make a stout paper pocket—(see last page, as written on in sample)—In trimming the plates, &c. (if yet to be done) trim them, especially No: 1 and No: 4, leaving a little more white paper at bottom, & less at top, the trimming in this sample seems to me to be the very reverse—

The plates are all put in right in this sample—the stamp on cover is right—& altogether the job looks satisfactory. I particularly want 50 copies (or 100) in a week.

Walt Whitman

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).


1. Whitman had a limited and pocket-book edition of Leaves of Grass printed in honor of his 70th birthday, on May 31, 1889, through special arrangement with Frederick Oldach. Only 300 copies were printed, and Whitman signed the title page of each one. The volume also included the annex Sands at Seventy and his essay A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads. For more information on the book see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]


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