Moby Dick by Herman Melville, First Edition Thus Illustrated by Rockwell Kent, 1930

Melville, Herman. Illustrated by Rockwell Kent. Moby Dick. New York: Random House, 1930. First Trade Edition with Kent Illustrations. Rebound in full leather. Housed in a matching custom archival slipcase.

Presented is a first trade edition of Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Originally published in 1851 by Lakeside Press in a three volume set, this trade edition combines the three volume set into one and includes the celebrated illustrations of Rockwell Kent. Published in 1930 by Random House, this first trade edition helped establish Moby Dick as an American Classic. The book has been professionally rebound in black leather boards with silver embossed stamps decorating the cover and spine, inspired by the original boards. It is housed in a protective, archival slipcase designed to match the book’s binding.

When Moby Dick was first published in 1851, the book was comparably unsuccessful. Fewer than 4,000 copies were sold and the timeless tale was overlooked. However, once the illustrated first trade edition was published in 1930 the public finally gave the novel its due. By the mid-20th century, Melville’s novel was recognized as one of the most important works in American Literature. The intricate and dramatic tale is based on a considerable amount of Melville’s research. The author spent a substantial amount of time on the whaling vessel, Acushnet, and acquired first-hand whaling experience on the ship. The historical ship, Essex, that was likewise attacked by a sperm whale in 1820 was a massive inspiration for much of Melville’s plot. Even the memorable name of the monstrous whale is derived from an historically aggressive whale off the coast of Chile named Mocha Dick that attacked unsuspecting ships. The well-researched novel still was not ready to publish until after Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated the book. The other author inspired Melville to rewrite his book, making the plot significantly more complex. The dark romantic novel eventually received the positive reception from readers nearly a century after it was published and is considered one of the greatest novels in American history.


Overall very good condition. The 1930 book has been rebound in full leather with silver embossed decorations on the front cover and spine. The pages are also edged in silver. Internally, the pages are clean, bright, and without loss or tears. The book is housed in a protective custom archival slipcase designed to match the attractive cover of the novel.

Dimensions: 8” H x 6” W x 2 ½” D (with slipcase)

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