Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin initially appeared in three different bindings—paper wrappers for $1.00, cloth (in purple, brown, or black) for $1.50, and cloth full gilt (in green, red, lavender, blue, or black) for $2.00. This was a common practice among publishers of popular authors of the day such as Irving, Longfellow, and Dickens. Our copy of the first printing is of the middling sort—purple cloth with blind- and gold-stamped decorative boards. In addition to the vignette on the cover and the title-page, Uncle Tom’s Cabin contained six illustrations (three per volume), all done by Hammatt Billings (1818-1874), a Boston artist with abolitionist sympathies who had done work for several publishers in the 1840s and ‘50s—including the illustration of the third masthead of The Liberator in 1850. Special Collections has a complete run of The Liberator (1831-1865) in fifteen bound volumes.

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