Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Frederick Oldach to Walt Whitman, 29 October 1890

Date: October 29, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03463

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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1215 Filbert Street.
114 S. Third Street.
Oct 29 1890

Mr Walt Whitman
Dear Sir.

We delivered Mr McKay1 50 Walt Whitman. sheets. as per Bill Enclosed. if this book is to be sold this way, it will be very unprofitable to us to Carry the sheets, which take up some very valuable room, to get out a few Copies now & then, Costs us 3 or 4 times as much as we Can charge You. if You do not intend to Bind up any of these in a Reasonable time. we wish you would store them elsewhere2

Yours truly
Oldach & Co

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. David McKay (1860–1918) took over Philadelphia-based publisher Rees Welsh's bookselling and publishing businesses in 1881–82. 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 original publisher, to withdraw. McKay also went on to publish Specimen Days & Collect, November Boughs, Gems from Walt Whitman, Complete Prose Works, and the final Leaves of Grass, the so-called deathbed edition. 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). [back]

2. On November 5, Horace Traubel noted: "W. explained that while I was away he 'got a very raspy note from Oldach practically asking that I take my sheets away, saying there was nothing to him in their being there,' etc. W. now would have Oldach bind up 150 copies more, then fold all rest of the sheets and arrange them for binding, etc., subject to order. Gave me memorandum letter to that effect" (Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, November 5, 1890). See Whitman's November 5, 1890, reply to Oldach. [back]


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