MELVILL, GANSEVOORT (1815-1846) – Collection of autograph letters and four titles owned by Gansevoort Melvill, the eldest brother of Herman Melville.
Nine volumes all with ownership signatures of Gansevoort Melvill/Melville; plus five autograph letters. Gansevoort was the eldest of the Melvill children, a brilliant young lawyer who died in London while serving as the Secretary of the American Legation at the Court of St. James. Gansevoort’s books may have been inherited by his brother, Herman Melville (see Reese, Grolier Gazette). Like Herman Melville, Gansevoort changed the spelling of his surname in 1832, after the death of their father. Comprises: 1. LLOYD, W. F. The Teacher ’ s Manual; or, Hints to a Teacher on being appointed to the charge of a Sunday School Class. Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union., 1827. 12mo. Contemporary half-roan over marbled boards. Provenance: Gift inscription to Gansevoort Melvill in the hand of his father, Allan Melvill, dated 14 February 1829; ownership signatures of young Gansevoort Melvill to title-page. 2. IRVING, C. Catechism of Astronomy. New York: Collins & Hannay, 1828. 12mo. Original printed wrappers. Provenance: Ownership signature of young Gansevoort to the title-page, later ownership inscription on upper wrapper: “Gansevoort Melville, New York,” and, more faintly “to H.M.M.” Exhibited: "A Herman Melville Collection ... on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, from the collection of William S. Reese," Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 1991, no. 1. 3. The New-York Annual Register for the Year of Our Lord 1830 [- 1836]. New York: Edwin Williams, 1830-1836. Six volumes (lacking Register for 1833), octavo. Illustrated with frontispieces (closed tear to one of the folding maps). Half-roan over marbled boards (rubbing, two spines chipped). Provenance: Ownership signatures of Gansevoort Melville on each title-page, all but one dated August 1836. 4. GREENHOW, R. The History of Oregon and California. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1845. Octavo. Large folding map (detached). Original cloth (upper cover nearly detached, some spotting internally, fingerprints to front free endpaper). Provenance: Ownership signature of Gansevoort Melville dated N.Y., July 1845. 5. Five Autograph Letters Signed (“Gansevoort Melville”), various places in Tennessee, 18 August 1844-13 September 1844, all to William E. Cramer in Albany, NY. Intimate and detailed letters to Gansevoort’s good friend, written as he travelled Tennessee. One is headed “Private & Confidential” and begins with a description of a “tremendous barbacue” attended by 15,000 people.