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Something of a “completist”, he attempted to amass everything available and the collection contained hundreds of editions and translations, but there were, too, some great rarities, inscribed copies and manuscript fragments.

Illustrated is an 1855 first issue of Leaves of Grass, in the first state binding with full gilt decoration – an ex-NYPL copy with a small library stamp to verso of the title – which sold at $70,000 (£48,275), and sold at $45,000 (£31,035) was a copy in the second issue binding, which for economic reasons was produced with less gilt decoration. The latter was last seen at Sotheby’s in 1981, priced at $3500.

Sold at $28,000 (£19,310) was a manuscript draft of part of the poem ‘By Blue Ontario’s Shore’ from Leaves of Grass, a fragment of 15 lines in three sections which seem to have been penned at different times but are gathered here under the title “For the Great Idea!”

Whitman revised and edited the poems throughout his life, and this fervently
patriotic poem, inspired by the Civil War, first appeared in an 1860 edition as ‘Poem One in Many’. It was not until 1867 that it became ‘As I Sat Alone on Ontario’s Shore’.

A manuscript pocket notebook in which Whitman records his impressions of the mood in New York on the day news of Lincoln’s death was received – “The tragedy of the last five years has reached its climax” made $35,000 (£24,140).

Sold at Sotheby’s in 1989 for $5500, Whitman’s own autograph draft for a
suggested promotional brochure or advertising circular for the “unexpurgated”edition of his works issued by Rees, Walsh & Co. of Philadelphia in 1882, this time made $30,000 (£20,690).