The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: A Detailed Look
The first edition of The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant offers a unique insight into the life of one of America’s most celebrated military leaders and presidents. Published in 1885-1886 by Charles L. Webster & Company, this two-volume set became a bestseller of the 19th century. It was sold at auction in August 2022 for $620.
President Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs were published posthumously under the direction of Mark Twain, a testament to Grant’s enduring legacy as a Civil War hero. Twain’s innovative marketing strategy, involving Civil War veterans selling the books door-to-door, contributed to its widespread success.
Grant’s First Edition and Binding Variations
This first edition includes an engraved portrait frontispiece, folding facsimile letter, map, and wood engravings. Presented in its original dark green cloth gilt binding, this edition exemplifies the craftsmanship of the era.
The original cost varied between $3.50 to $12 per set, with the price difference dependent upon the binding. The Memoirs were available in the “plain” dark green cloth binding, or a luxurious leather bound edition. Leather-bound or finely bound editions of Grant’s memoirs are considered more desirable by most collectors, especially when found in fine condition. Conversely, copies in the plain binding or poor condition may sell for significantly less at auction.
Sales and Marketing of Grant’s Memoirs
Twain’s marketing campaign capitalized on the nation’s mourning for President Grant, resulting in impressive sales figures even before the book’s actual printing. Approximately 350,000 two-volume sets were sold, reflecting the public’s interest in Grant’s life and military career.