New York: C. S. Van Winkle, 1819. First edition. A completely unrestored part 5 in wrappers in exceptional condition. The wrappers show very little wear or damage, with a previous owner's name on the front wrapper. Light foxing and/or minor dampstaining to a few leaves, but generally internal content in excellent condition. A remarkable example of part 5 of Irving's masterpiece, in its original state. The Greenhill-Martin set (all 7) in parts was sold in 1990, spines were renewed and then it sold again in 2014 for over $34,000. While sets often turn up in bindings, genuine, unrestored parts in wrappers are rare. Housed in a custom slipcase with chemise.
"The Sketch Book was a celebrated event in American literary history. The collection was the first American work of short stories to gain international success and popularity" and while "most of the book's 30 off pieces concern Irving's impressions of England, six chapters deal with American subjects" (Britannica). The present volume contains Old Christmas, a story for which Irving is "often credited with creating Christmas in America as we know it...Among the story's major contributions to Christmas in America was his promotion of St. Nicholas as a beloved character, laying the groundwork for the figure we'd eventually embrace as Santa Claus" (NEH). Prior to Old Christmas, Americans had disparate practices and traditions for the holiday, shaped in part by their immigrant heritage as well as by Puritanical bans against excessive celebrating and drinking. Irving helped consolidate the nation around rituals, images, and ideas now common today. "Charles Dickens later fine-tuned the Christmas story, but Irving laid the foundation. Americans embraced Irving's vision of Christmas as their own" (NEH). Near Fine (Item #4475)