|Francis Samuel Drake via Wikimedia Commons|
1039 MELVILLE (Herman), author, a. l. s. 2 pages 8vo, 1872;
-- A. Bronson Alcott, a. l. s. 3 pages 8vo, 1872 (2)
<https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044080272198?urlappend=%3Bseq=72>Francis Samuel Drake the bookman, collector, and historian died in 1885, the year after publication of his memorial collection, Tea Leaves (Boston, 1884). The elaborate biographical introduction in Tea Leaves significantly expands the treatment of Thomas Melvill (Herman's grandfather) by FSD's brother Samuel Adams Drake in Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston (Boston, 1873).
|via U. S. Customs and Border Protection|
It looks like Samuel A. Drake gave one or more letters from Herman Melville to his collector-brother Francis S. Drake, at some time between 1872 and early 1885.
Except for the date, it's not clear what if any connection the 1872 letter from Herman Melville had with Bronson Alcott's letter, included with Melville's in lot 1039. I'm guessing both 1872 letters were acquired at auction by Burns & Son with other items from the Drake collection. Burns & Son separately offered 1872 letters from Melville and Alcott that essentially match descriptions in the Libbie catalogue.
Burns & Son offered this Melville item, number 119, in their November 1885 Catalogue of Autograph Letters:
MELVILLE, Herman. Author of Typee, Omoo, etc.Price 75 cents, same as this 3-page letter from Alcott, written in 1872 about Margaret Fuller:
A. L. S. 2pp. 8vo. 1872 . . . . . 75
3 ALCOTT, A. Bronson. Author; philosopher.Citation:
A. L. S. 3 pp. 8vo. 1872. Account of Margaret Fuller and her works .... 75
Catalogue of Autograph Letters, Selected from the Stock of Burns & Son, 744 Broadway, New York.” American Antiquarian: A Quarterly Journal Devoted to the Interests of Collectors of Autographs, Paper Money, Portraits, &c, vol. 4, no. 2, Nov. 1885, pp. 311–316. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eup&AN=66918716&site=ehost-live.The most expensive item listed in 1885 by Burns & Son is the 1775 document signed by "Revolutionary patriot" Joseph Warren, "killed at Bunker Hill." "Excessively rare" and valued at 25.00. Which might be the commission of Samuel Cobb signed by Warren, lot number 1258 in the Libbie catalogue and similarly described there as "extremely rare."
Burns & Son then had their business at 744 Broadway in New York City.A later Burns catalogue in the February 1888 number of American Antiquarian offers a one-page Melville letter written in 1860:
191 MELVILLE, Herman. Author.Citation:
A. L. S. 1p. 8vo. 1860 . . . . 1.00
“Catalogue of Autograph Letters, Selected from the Stock of Burns & Son, 744 Broadway, New York.” American Antiquarian: A Quarterly Journal Devoted to the Interests of Collectors of Autographs, Paper Money, Portraits, &c, vol. 4, no. 11, Feb. 1888, pp. 428–436. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hss&AN=69644641&site=ehost-live.Scholarly editions of Herman Melville's correspondence reference two Melville letters offered in earlier Burns catalogues--issued before Charles De F. Burns "put his son George R. in charge" and changed the name of the firm to Burns & Son.
|Bookmart - February 20, 1884|
"THE best commission bookbuyer we know of in New York, Mr. Charles De F. Burns has secured Room 7 at No. 744 Broadway, and put his son George R., in charge. They will do business under the firm name of Burns & Son and all auction sales in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and most other important places will be attended, to watch for bargains for their constantly increasing number of patrons.The December 1878 Catalogue of Autographs, duly cited in the 1993 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Herman Melville's Correspondence, ed. Lynn Horth, page 282, has one 1856 letter from Herman Melville.
The 1881 Burns catalogue offers a different Melville letter, written in 1858:
362. 1858, no month.
This unlocated 1858 letter is referenced in the "Check List of Unlocated Letters," The Letters of Herman Melville, ed. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (Yale University Press, 1960). page 315:To ?. Cited in Charles De F. Burns, Catalogue of Autographs (New York, 1881), No. 709: “Melville, Herman. Author of Omoo, etc. A.L.S. 1 p. 8 vo. 1858 . . . $.50."
< https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.84865/page/n361>And the 1993 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Herman Melville's Correspondence, ed. Lynn Horth, page 322: