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Cover Club: Leaves of Grass (1860 edition)

Today is Walt Whitman's birthday and there is a lot written about his personal life and his life as a writer, but much less is written about him as a bookmaker. He self-published most editions (including the first edition) of Leaves of Grass and was heavily involved in the production of all of his books, even as he advanced in age. The third edition of Leaves of Grass is a particular highlight with some amazing hand-drawn typography on the cover (he made eight different editions of Leaves, each one re-written and re-edited with new poems and arrangement as well as design, basically creating eight different books). There is a great book called Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman which is entirely online as part of the Whitman Archive and goes into real depth about the making of each edition and I highly recommend checking it out even if all you are only interested in is book design. The University of Iowa Press released a facsimile edition of the 1860 Leaves of Grass that you can buy at their website.

Here are some images of the various covers of the third edition of Leaves of Grass (1860):

above image from Whitman Archive


above images are from University of Virginia

Original brass dies used for 1860 edition

all eight editions of Leaves of Grass

above images from Library of Congress

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