First edition, third printing of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, presented by the author to Miss Emeline J. Odekirk.
Octavo, [4pp ads], xvi, -336pp. Publisher’s original brown cloth, title stamped in gilt on spine, covers stamped in blind. “Eighth Thousand” at head of title. Yellow endpapers, publisher’s ads inserted between front endpapers. Slight lean to text block. Corners, spine ends and bottom edges rubbed and worn, some loss of cloth. Light shelf wear to covers, vertical crease on back cover. Scattered foxing, occasional finger marks and soiling to pages, a couple pages with short tears along the edge but not affecting text. Binding sound, one signature loose, but still attached by upper threads. All seven full-page engravings are present, including frontispiece with tissue cover. Notation on verso of front endpaper: “Miss Emeline J. Odekirk’s Book / Presented by Solomon Northup / Oct 1853.” Housed in a custom black cloth clamshell with title in gilt over red spine label. (Sabin 55847) (Dictionary of the Schomburg Collection, Vol. 6, page 5644) A nice example of this important firsthand account of slavery in the southern United States.
After regaining his freedom from slavery in January 1853, Solomon Northup soon wrote this account of his ordeal with the assistance of his editor, David Wilson. The book was advertised for prepublication orders at a price of $1.00, and by the time of its release in July 1853, the book was an immediate bestseller. The publisher increased production with the “Fifth Thousand” printing, “Eighth Thousand” printing and so forth. By early December 1853, the Anti-Slavery Bugle announced that 17,000 copies had sold in four months, and the publisher was looking for 1,000 agents to sell the book in the United States and Canada. With the book’s success, Northup traveled the Northeast giving lectures about his experiences.Emeline J. Odekirk (also spelled Oderkirk) was born in Hoosick, New York in 1816. By the late 1840s, she was living in Washington County, New York, working as a dressmaker. From 1858 to her death in 1882, she lived in West Troy, New York.