One of only five known copies of Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, and bound by Douglass at the North Star offices in 1848, comes to auction on Thursday in the Printed & Manuscript African Americana auction.
When Douglass's Narrative first appeared in 1845, he had already been lecturing for over four years as the shining star of the New England abolitionists, which included William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips. His Narrative became an instant best-seller, going through 5,000 copies of the first printing in four months. Between 1845 and 1849, there were an additional six printings.
It was actually the success of the Narrative that alerted Douglass's owner, Hugh Auld, as to where his slave could be found. As a result, Douglass was forced to leave the country; in the fall of 1845, he set sail for Cork, Ireland and began a two-year lecture tour of Great Britain. Upon his return, Douglass continued to lecture and contribute articles to various anti-slavery journals, including Garrison's Liberator. In the fall of 1847, Douglass moved to upstate New York to publish his own newspaper, the North Star.
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, 1848. Estimate: $25,000 to $35,000.