Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James R. Osgood & Company, 15 September 1881

Date: September 15, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00111

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 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: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray

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Sept: 15 '81

J R Osgood & Co:
Dear Sirs

Yours of 13th rec'd. About the plate my impression still is that in the hands of a good expert steel plate printer it will be found to be not only not worn, but just about as good as new. There have been less than 2000 impressions struck off from it altogether, & it has been carefully preserved. However let us say $40 (instead of 50) as the price (with the books & prints before specified).

My notion is against getting up any further portrait (this steel plate will have to permanently continue in all issues) for this issue, or at present2—let that be kept for something to give added zest to a future issue—perhaps a year or two from now. Besides we would have to hurry too much—for I think the book better be thrown on the market forthwith—all the favorable stars are apparently just now in conjunction—

The press-work (which I hope will be very carefully done, & with good ink)—& the binding, color, style, (strong, plain, unexpensive, is my notion, nothing fancy) are now about to be prepared for immediately, & the plate printing to be at once put in hand. The book will not make more than 390 pages (most likely 385 to 390.)—I am in favor of its being so trimmed & bound that it will be as eligible as possible for the pocket, & to be carried about—& I am not in favor of wide margins.

I have no objection for any specific time for the contract to continue if you wish. I think of calling Friday noon 16th at your place—

Walt Whitman


1. This letter is endorsed: "James R. Osgood & Co. | Boston. | Sep | 16 | 1881." [back]

2. The firm suggested on September 13 the inclusion of "another plate—a portrait of yourself as now." Why Whitman decided against using the Gutekunst portrait which he originally suggested in his letter to Osgood on June 4, 1881, is not clear. [back]


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