Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Classic Tear Jerker

John P. Jewett knew he had a runaway bestseller with Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (Boston: J. P. Jewett, 1852), and he was determined to sell the book like no book had ever been sold before. He commissioned noted poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier to write a poem that could be set to music based on the emotionally charged death of Little Eva.  It began "Dry the tears for holy Eva!"  The song became a sheet music bestseller, and Jewett saw another opportunity to market the book: a printed handkerchief to help readers dry their tears.

Framing the image of Little Eva teaching Uncle Tom in the garden is a decorative border touting the novel's record setting sales: "Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a Picture of American Slavery, not overdrawn, since Southern Publications themselves give as facts accounts of characters and incidents fully matching any thing this work presents--115,000 copies or 230,000 vols. have been sold in 6 months."

This marketing artifact is a perfect complement to our presentation copy first edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Ask for Rauner Val 816 St78 X711 to see the first edition.

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