Buffalo: The Courier Company, 1889. 20.5x14.5cm: 360pp. Originally published in 1869, this is the final and most complete edition of one of the most famous American autobiographies, highlighting the life of one of the world’s most legendary promoters and marketeers. Publisher’s presentation binding in full black morocco leather with gilt ruling and Barnum’s bold signature in gilt on the front board. Gilt titling and decorations to the spine with four raised bands. Elaborate gilt dentelle turn-ins. All text block edges gilt, although they are a bit scratched. Red marbled endpapers. Boards lightly edgeworn with some rubbing. Binding is sound and pages unmarked. Illustrated with 43 engravings of important people and scenes in Barnum’s life, including his wife Charity, Tom Thumb, the welcoming of Jenny Lind, and the museum building. Near Fine.
This copy is signed and inscribed by the author “To my friend & neighbor / George Mallory, Esq. / With kind regards to all / his tribe / P. T. Barnum” and dated 5 July 1890, less than a year before Barnum’s death. George Mallory was a significant figure in Connecticut during the 19th century. He was an early investor in the Watertown Manufacturing Company, a member of the Bridgeport Board of Trade with P.T. Barnum, and Director of the Bridgeport City Bank. Most notably, Mallory was one of the original incorporators and stockholders of the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company of Bridgeport, a manufacturer of sewing machines, that was later acquired by the Singer Corporation in 1905. With Mallory and Barnum both having homes in Bridgeport and given Barnum’s work as an entrepreneur and politician, it made sense that the two would be such good friends.
In the book’s preface, Barnum writes, “Few men in civil life have had a career more crowded with incident, enterprise, and various intercourse with the world than mine.” An important work by a fascinating figure with a great association to a notable Connecticut man.