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The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale

The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale

Van Doren Stern, Philip (1900-1984) Scarce first edition of the story that was adapted into the beloved holiday classic film, "It's a Wonderful Life." Philip Van Doren Stern was an accomplished Civil War historian and author but perhaps his most enduring work is this little story about a man transformed by a visit from an angel who, granting the man's own wish that he'd never been born, shows him what that would mean for his town and those he loved. Stern wrote the story out in about 4,000 words, which he continued to revisit until 1943 when he sought to have it published. Despite his reputation as an established author, he could not find a publisher for the story, so in December 1943 he printed up about 200 copies himself and sent them to friends as a 21 page Christmas card. A few months later, one of Stern's pamphlets caught the attention of Cary Grant, who saw it as a film with himself in the starring role. Stern sold the film rights for $10,000 and after some false starts the film ended up being produced by Frank Capra in 1946 as "It's a Wonderful Life," starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. David McKay published Stern's story in 1944, after the sale of the film rights but before the film was made. This is a beautiful copy of that first printing. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Tiny rubs to lower fore corners of boards. Jacket has some shallow edge chips, a closed 1" tear at top edge of rear panel, and a 1/8" x 3/16" hold along lower joint fold of spine. Very clean and bright overall.
Autograph Letter

Autograph Letter, Signed, on National Woman Suffrage Association Stationery

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (1815-1902) Handwritten letter by pioneering suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, mentioning fellow activists Lucy Stone and Lucretia Mott. Mrs. Stanton is responding to a gentleman named Greene who apparently had requested contacts from her. The letter is penned in a dark blue or purple ink on letterhead of the National Woman Suffrage Association (printed with the names of Susan B. Anthony and other officers from around the country), and we transcribe it as follows: "[indecipherable] Greene / Dear Sir / I think you could [omitted word] most of the New England names by writing to Lucy Stone Ed The Woman's Journal 5 Park Street Boston. Lucretia Mott's son in law lives at 205 Walnut Street Philadelphia where you can no doubt [omitted word] the other names you mention. / respt yours / Elizabeth Cady Stanton" Pencilled in another hand--possibly the recipient's--are "Tenafly, NJ" and "Recd 12mo4.1885[?]" at beginning and conclusion of the letter, respectively. Interestingly, Lucy Stone had split with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1869 over passage of Constitutional Amendments to grant votes to Blacks but not to women. Stone and Julia Ward Howe then formed the more moderate American Woman Suffrage Association, which published "The Woman's Journal" referenced here by Mrs. Stanton. The rift was mended when the two rival suffrage associations merged in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Fine. Three old fold creases with a .25" tear following one of them at top edge. Writing is clear and bold.
In Congress

In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration By the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled

Declaration of Independence] In the early hours of July 5, 1776, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap set the Declaration of Independence in type under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. He printed a small number of broadsides for distribution to leaders in the colonies, as ordered by Congress. This was the first appearance of the Declaration in print. Of these original Dunlap Broadsides there are just 26 known survivors, some of which are fragments. This is the most painstakingly accurate facsimile of a Dunlap Broadside ever made. It was produced by R. R. Donnelley's Lakeside Press in 1970. Donnelley was doing conservation work on an original that had been discovered in the closing inventory of Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia, and bought at auction by Ira G. Corn, Jr. and Joseph P. Driscoll. No expense was spared to create an exact replica of the original Corn/Driscoll copy. Special laid paper was made to match the original, and then die-cut to its exact size and shape, including the tiny nicks to its edges. The sheets were then tinted front and back using Donnelley's DeepTone process to exactly match the stains and subtle paper tones of the original. These sheets were then printed by letterpress to closely match Dunlap's presswork. The purpose of this facsimile was two-fold. First, the owners of the original commissioned it so that the document's "enjoyment could be more widespread." Second, Donnelley got permission to print additional facsimiles for friends of their company "as a demonstration of the work Donnelley craftsmen do for our customers." It is uncertain how many facsimiles were printed, but probably a few hundred.