MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891). Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1846.

An important presentation copy of the first American edition, inscribed a month after publication to the captain of the ship on which Melville's youngest brother began his maritime career. Inscribed by Herman Melville: “Captain Ball, with the respects of the author, Westport April 18th 1846.” Charles Ball, of whom little is known, was captain of the whaling ship Theophilus Chase, on which Thomas Melville, the author's 16-year old brother, set sail for the first time. Thomas and Herman were close and Thomas's decision to follow in his older brother's footsteps was likely due, at least in part, to hearing his stories of his time at sea. Theophilus Chase sailed on 18 March 1846 for the South Atlantic from Westport but was homeward bound by April, at which point Herman apparently visited Westport and inscribed this copy of Typee, just one month after its American publication on 17 March. Ball likely took it with him on his next whaling voyage. A wonderful association copy. Charles Ball must have been a sympathetic man, probably nothing like the Captain of the Acushnet as depicted in Typee. Inscribed copies of Typee are rare: ABPC records only two, the most recent selling in 1995. BAL 13653.

Octavo, two volumes in one. Half titles for both vols., 6 pp. of publisher’s ads at rear (front free endpaper excised, faint dampstain affecting first third of text including inscription, some spotting and darkening otherwise.) Original green cloth stamped in blind (cloth worn along lower portion of front joint, spine ends, and edges of covers). Custom quarter morocco clamshell box. Provenance: Captain Charles Ball (authorial inscription).
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