Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.New York: Harper & Brothers; Richard Bentley, London, 1851 Stock Code: 90006
Murder Among the Mormons - a Hofmann forgeryFirst American edition, in the first binding with orange endpapers and the publisher's device stamped centrally on the sides. The interest in this defective copy lies in the fact that it has been used by the notorious forger Mark Hofmann to fake an authorial inscription: "Respectfully yours, Herman Melville, Pittsfield Oct. 12, 1869".
Hofmann (b. 1954) is particularly known for a stream of forgeries related to the history of the Latter Day Saint movement, but he was also a prolific forger of signatures highly valued by collectors of Americana, such as that of Herman Melville. The signature is not entirely convincing, particularly in the orthography of the date, which is atypical of Melville's practice. It was perhaps a practice piece, Hofmann using a less valuable defective copy turned upside down, and writing on a rear blank.
A three-part documentary series about Hofmann's illegal activities entitled Murder Among the Mormons premiered on Netflix on 3 March 2021.
The American edition was the first to appear under the familiar title and was set from Melville's original manuscript. The Whale, issued shortly before in London, was set from New York sheets, with Melville's alterations. The American edition contains some 35 passages not present in the English edition.
Duodecimo. Original purple-brown cloth, publisher's devices to each board in blind, titles to spine gilt, orange coated endpapers.
Spine ends repaired, some foxing, as often. Defective: lacking front free endpaper and title page.
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