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Walt Whitman to David McKay, 3 April 1891


Yes there were certainly 100 sets—I see by my memoranda book—50 to yr order Aug: 27 '90 & 50 same order Oct: 21 '902—you can of course verify it all by Oldach's3 delivery

Walt Whitman  har.00042.002_large.jpg

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).


  • 1. This postal card is addressed: David McKay | publisher &c: | 23 south 9th street | Philadelphia. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 3 | 6 PM | 91; Received 5 | Apr | 3 | 730 PM | [illegible] | Phila. [back]
  • 2. See Whitman's November 1, 1890, letter to David McKay. On the following day McKay paid Whitman $127.87—"pays up (does it?) to date everything (inc'ng the 6 sets above)" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). See also Whitman's March 31, 1891 letter to Horace Traubel, as well as the poet's April 5 and April 6, 1891, letters to McKay. [back]
  • 3. 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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