It can sometimes seem to be a frustrating experience collecting books, and among the many authors that can inspire this feeling; one would be Henry David Thoreau. It is not frustrating for the variety, quality, or prestige of volumes available of the New American Transcendentalist; rather, it is the vast disparity in their prices.
Henry David Thoreau is, without doubt, a giant in the field of American literature; a true master of the long-form essay, and a person that we might today call a Master of Letters. It is his epistles, letters, essays, articles and longer works that have lasted the test of time, becoming themselves iconic of their entire genre.
However, it has to be said that if Thoreau is a literary giant, then it must also be said that he stands on a very solitary mountain. Thoreau has become, like his friend and mentor Edison, a figure who is ingrained in American culture. His essay ‘On Civil Disobedience’ being one of the founding influences on the later American Bill of Rights, as well as forming the backbone of Martin J Luther’s historic civil rights movement. ‘On Walden Pond’ too, remains an inspiration for any lover or conservationist of the American wilds.
Although these deeds are great – and not many writers can be so proud as to boast similar impacts on a continental psyche – it still must be considered unfortunate when remember that these are only a small part of Thoreau’s vast literary output. There were many meditations, volumes, and reflections on the ‘experiment’ that led to Walden Pond; for example, consider the four separate volumes of Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Early Spring. These are published posthumously, and taken from the journals of the great thinker, but are vastly cheaper than Walden, either brought separately or together. A very fine first edition of Summer, bound in green by Houghton, Mifflin & Co (1884) will only cost you between $300-$700.
Of the great works by the philosopher, naturalist, and writer; perhaps no other work compares to Walden for timelessness. Quite rightly, it is regarded as an American classic, and a true first edition (only 2000 copies were ever printed of the first) could cost you from $6,000 at the very least (for a damaged copy) up to in the region of $20,000 for one with timely marginalia.
Thoreau, Henry David. Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. James Munroe and Company, Boston and Cambridge (1849). 1000 copies printed; 550 copies in first issue; 450 copies in second issue.
Thoreau, Henry David. Excursion to Canada. G. P. Putnam, New York; Sampson Low, Son, London (1853). [in] Putnam's Monthly Magazine of American Literature, Science, and Art
Thoreau, Henry David. WALDEN. Ticknor and Fields, Boston (1854). OR, LIFE IN THE WOODS; Illustrated with a title vignette of Thoreau's cabin in the woods and a engraved plan of Walden Pond; 2000 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Maine Woods. Ticknor And Fields, Boston (1864). 1450 copies printed; It contains three accounts of trips to Maine: Ktaadn; Chesuncook , with an Indian guide, Joe Aitteon; and The Allegash and East Branch
Thoreau, Henry David. Cape Cod. Tricknor and Fields, Boston (1865). Edited by William Ellery Channing and Sophia Thoreau; 2040 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Letters to various persons. Ticknor and Fields, Boston (1865). 2130 copies; Contains the first collection of Thoreau's letters edited by Ralph Walph Emerson; Also preface by Emerson
Thoreau, Henry David. A Yankee in Canada. Ticknor and Fields, Boston (1866). with Anti-Slavery and Reform Prayers; 1500 copies printed; the first book publication of Civil Disobedience and Life Without Principle, Thoreau's two most famous essays
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Mifflin and Company, Boston Houghton (1883). Or, Life In the Woods
Thoreau, Henry David. Summer. T. Fisher Unwin, London (1884). From the journal of Henry D. Thoreau. Edited by H.G.O. Blake; 558 copies.
Thoreau, Henry David. Summer. Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1884). Edited by H.G.O. Blake; From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau; 1260 copies in First Edition; Total 2000 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Walter Scott, London (1886). or Life in the Woods; With an Introductory Note By Will H. Dircks
Thoreau, Henry David. Collected Works. Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1893). Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Walden, The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Excursions, Miscellanies, Familiar Letters (11 volumes)
Thoreau, Henry David. Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York (1894). Complete in 11 Volumes; 150 copies printed; The Riverside Edition was the first collected edition of Thoreau's work; Set includes: Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Walden, Maine Woods, Cape Cod, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Excursions, Miscellanies, and Familiar Letters.
Thoreau, Henry David. Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Riverside Press, Cambridge (1894). Eleven Volumes; 150 copies.
Thoreau, Henry David. Cape Cod. Houghton Mifflin and Co., Boston (1896). Volumes I and II; With illustrations from sketches in colors by Amelia M. Watson; 5134 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Houghton, Mifflin, Boston and New York (1897). Introduction by Bradford Torrey; 2 volumes; Illustrated with tissued guarded photogravures of Thoreau, his contemporaries, and scenes of Walden Pond by A. W. Hosmer; 2500 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Johann Palm's Verlag, Munchen (1897). Translated by Emma Emmerich
Thoreau, Henry David. Cape Cod. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston and New York (1899). With Illustrations from Sketches in Colors by Amelia D. Watson; 2 volumes.
Thoreau, Henry David. THE SERVICE. Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston (1902). Edited by F.B. Sanborn; 500 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Cape Cod. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston (1904). With illustrations from sketches in colour by Amelia M. Watson; 2 volumes.
Thoreau, Henry David. Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York (1906). Concord Edition (10 volumes, I through X); Vol.I: A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers; Biographical sketch by R. W. Emerson. Vol.II: Walden. Vol.III: The Maine Woods. Vol.IV: Cape Cod and miscellanies. Vol.V: Excursions and poems. Vol.VI: Familiar letters edited by F. B. Sanborn. Enlarged edition; General index. Vol.VII-XX: Journal edited by Bradford Torrey; 600 copies printed; more than 100 photographic illustrations by Herbert W. Gleason.
Thoreau , Henry David. WRITINGS. Houghton Mifflin and Company, Boston and New York (1906). 20 volumes; 600 copies; With a fold out map of Concord, reproductions of Thoreau's journal illustrations, and over 100 tissue-guarded photogravues some of which are hand-coloured
Gleason, Herbert. Walden. Bibliophile Society, Boston (1909). Two Volumes; or Life in the Wood; 483 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Chapman and Hall Ltd., London (1927). or Life In The Woods; Illustrated with 17 woodcuts by Eric Fitch Daglish; 100 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Lakeside Press, Chicago (1930). or Life in the Woods; designed and Illustrated by Rudolph Ruzicka; Introduction by Raymond Adams; 1000 copies printed
Thoreau, Henry David. Transmigration of the Seven Brahmans. William Edwin Rudge, New York (1931). A Translation from the Harivansa of Langlois; Edited from Manuscript, With an Introduction and Notes by Arthur Christy; 200 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Men of Concord. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston (1936). And Some Others as Portrayed in the Journal of Henry David Thoreau; Editied by Francis H. Allen; With10 plates in colours, colour illustrated endleaves and a great many drawings throughout the text by N. C. Wyeth
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Limited Editions Club, Boston (1936). Or Life In The Woods; Illustrated with 15 photographic plates by Edward Steichen, taken at Various Seasons at Walden Pond; Introduction by Henry Seidel Canby; 1500 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Life Without Principle. Greenwood Press, San Mateo, California (1946). Preface By Henry Miller; Three of Thoreau's most famous essays (Civil Disobedience, Life Without Principle, and John Brown's Body); 500 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Life Without Principle. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1946). Three essays by Thoreau with a preface by Henry Miller; 500 copies printed; The Thoreau essays are Civil Disobedience, Life Without Principle, and John Brown's Body.
Thoreau, Henry David. Journal of Henry D. Thoreau. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston (1949). Edited by Bradford Torrey and Francis H. Allen; Foreword by Henry Seidel Canby; 14 Volumes Complete
Thoreau, Henry David. Wild Apples. Achille J. St. Onge., Worcester (1956). History of the Apple Tree; 950 copies; Full leather binding by Frank Fortney with gilt titles front and back; Designed by Bruce Rogers, presswork by Marchbanks Press
Thoreau, Henry David. correspondence of Henry David Thoreau. New York University Press (1958). Edited by Walter Harding and Carl Bode
Thoreau, Henry David. Journal of Henry David Thoreau. Dover Pubns, Mineola, New York (1962). in Fourteen Volumes Bound As Two Vols. 8-14
Thoreau, Henry David. Journal of Thoreau. Dover Publications, New York (1962). with Editing by Bradford Torrey and Francis H. Allen
Thoreau, Henry David. A Vision of Thoreau. Spiral Press, New York (1965). with His 1849 Essay: Civil Disobedience; With 11 impressive woodcut portraits of Henry David Thoreau, decorated title-page and further woodcut decorations all by Antonio Frasconi; 530 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. Civil Disobedience. David R. Godine, Boston (1969). 650 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. WALDEN OR LIFE IN THE WOODS. Easton Press, Norwalk, Connecticut (1981). CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND OTHER ESSAYS; THE MAINE WOODS; CAPE COD
Thoreau, Henry David. Winged Life. Yolla Bolly Press, Covelo (1986). The Poetic Voice of Henry David Throeau; Edited and with Commentaries By Robert Bly; Wood Engravings By Michael McCurdy; designed by James and Carolyn Robertson; 85 copies printed.
Thoreau, Henry David. OF WOODLAND POOLS. Lone Oak Press, Petersham (2005). SPRING-HOLES and DITCHES, Excerpts from The Journal; The introduction is by Bradley P. Dean; There are further notes about New England vernal pools by Leo P Kennedy and Matthew R. Burne, as well as by Ms. Rorer; 70 copies printed and 14 Delux copies.