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Lot 350

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Walt Whitman ALS Inviting Philadelphia Visitor to Camden--Possibly Artist Thomas Eakins?

A splendid 1p autograph letter signed by American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), the controversial author of the poetry collection "Leaves of Grass" (1850-1892), signed as "Walt Whitman" at lower right. Dated September 22 of an unknown year, circa 1873-1884. On a single leaf of stationery paper, boldly scrawled by Whitman in incredibly black ink. Expected transmittal folds, three of which have been professionally reinforced verso. A minor closed tear and a small area of loss located in the upper right-hand corner have also been repaired. Isolated foxing along the left edge, else near fine. 5.25" x 7.875."

In this letter, Whitman invited an unidentified correspondent to visit him in Camden, New Jersey. The recipient's identity is unknown, but we can deduce that he lived in Philadelphia and was famous enough to have his comings and goings announced in the newspaper. Could the visitor have been Thomas Eakins, the realist painter, who it is documented visited Whitman at 431 Stevens Street in Camden, New Jersey? This exact letter cannot be located in the Walt Whitman Archive [whitmanarchive.org] and it is probably unpublished.

Whitman wrote in full, with unchanged spelling punctuation:

"431 Stevens St.
cor West.

N. Jersey,
Sept. 22

Dear Sir,

Seeing your arrival + temporary stoppage announced in the paper, I send you my address, in hope you may give me a call. It is very easy to get to, by Market St. ferry.

Walt Whitman

I shall be in, every day this week from 9 till 11, + from 2 to 4."

431 Stevens Street was the home of Walt Whitman's younger brother George Washington Whitman (1829-1901). Walt Whitman lived there after 1873, when he suffered a paralytic stroke, and until 1884, when he moved into his own house at nearby 328 Mickle Street (now 330 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive). While at 431 Stevens Street, Walt Whitman also entertained other world-renowned guests including Irish writers Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker.

The Market Street Ferry, established around 1800, transported passengers from Philadelphia across the Delaware River to numerous towns along the New Jersey shore, including Camden.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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