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Mercedes of Castile; or, The Voyage to Cathay
Small 8vo. Brown blind-embossed cloth with gilt spine. xii, 260pp, 232pp. Very good. Binding a bit rubbed, but tight-hinged and nice. Tight and attractive copy of Volume 20 (only) from a set of "Cooper's Novels" (so marked on spine) -- but an odd volume with an outstanding history: Strong evidence points to this very copy residing in the hotel room where the Lincolns lived before departing for Washington, DC. The book is accompanied by a Typed Letter Signed from noted Lincoln scholar HARRY E. PRATT, author of "The Personal Finances of Abraham Lincoln" and other respected scholarly works. 1p, 8½" X 11", Springfield, IL, 1952 October 28. Addressed to noted Lincoln/Civil War scholar, radio pioneer and Broadcast Music Inc. president Carl Haverlin (1899-1985). Near fine. On "Illinois State Historical Society" letterhead, which lists Pratt as Secretary-Treasurer, Pratt explains in a letter that accompanied this book to Haverlin: "The book which belonged to John W. Chenery who purchased the hotel which he renamed the Chenery House in 1854 and where the Lincoln lived for the last five or six days they were in Springfield is, according to his son, William Dodd Chenery, one of the complete set which was in the Lincoln rooms at the Chenery House. There was no liquor served in the Chenery House so Lincoln could not while his time away and therefore was compelled to search for other amusement. At least this is one departure you could make. When William Dodd Chenery gave me the complete set one volume was missing. This volume was supposed to have been the one that Lincoln started to read and liking the story so well asked if he might take the volume with him and return it when he had finished with it. William Dodd wrote this story on the fly leaves of the first volume. I sold the set in 1944 to the Van Norman Book Company at Galesburg. When I bought back some of the books a few months ago there were only seven or eight volumes left in this set and Volume I was gone...." Chats about other Lincoln matters. Signed simply "Harry" at the conclusion in black ink. Also present is the mailing label from the package that transmitted this book from Pratt to Haverlin. John W. Chenery (1826-73) was a Massachusett who came to Springfield in 1852 and operated a hotel there with his father until 1855, at which time they purchased a hotel, added to it and renamed it Chenery House, which it remained until 1877. The historical record shows that after becoming president-elect, Lincoln rented out his home and the family moved into the Chenery House at the corner of Fourth and Washington Streets until departing for Washington on February 11th, 1861. The front flyleaf bears a bold "Jno W. Chenery / Springfield / June 28th/58" and the rear flyleaf bears a small, neat "John W. Chenery" ownership inkstamp. Could this be the very volume from this set that Lincoln read and borrowed? Not enough evidence to substantiate. Was this volume in the set of "Cooper's Novels" that graced the Lincolns' hotel room before their fateful journey? Almost certainly. We have not been able to verify whether any other volumes from this same Cooper set survive. An intriguing, provocative copy.
      [Bookseller: Main Street Fine Books & Manuscripts, AB]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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