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You Won't Believe Edgar Allan Poe's Most Valuable Book

You Won’t Believe Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Valuable Book
Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, with offerings. Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Edgar Allan Poe’s oeuvre has profoundly influenced American literature and global literary traditions. His stories have shaped the mystery and horror genres, encapsulating the eeriness and desolation typical of Gothic fiction. However, Poe’s legacy isn’t without its blemishes.

Interestingly, the most valuable work by Poe isn’t one of his famous detective stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin or his nautical thriller, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.” Instead, it is a poetry collection he published at the young age of 18, titled “Tamerlane and Other Poems.”

Bradford Morrow, in an article for Literary Hub, delves into the rarity of “Tamerlane and Other Poems.” Only 12 first editions are known to exist. At a 2009 auction, one of these rare copies fetched an astounding $662,500, setting a new record for an American writer’s book.

The scarcity of “Tamerlane and Other Poems” is such that several prestigious libraries do not have a copy. “The Morgan Library doesn’t own a copy,” Morrow noted. “Nor does the Library of Congress.” However, the New York Public Library boasts two copies in its collection. There’s ongoing debate about the exact number of surviving copies, especially since one was stolen in 1973 and has never been recovered. Morrow speculates that this missing copy may have been destroyed.

Despite its rarity, some copies of “Tamerlane and Other Poems” surface under unexpected circumstances. Morrow recalls encountering one of these elusive volumes, which was found in 1988 “in a bin of old farming pamphlets at an antique shop in Hampton, New Hampshire.” The collector who stumbled upon this literary treasure paid just $15.00. Such serendipitous discoveries fuel the imagination, prompting one to ponder what other rare books might be lying undiscovered in unlikely places.

Source: Literary Hub