Savannah: John M. Cooper, 1856. First Edition. Octavo (20cm). 19th-c. half morocco over marbled boards (re-backed); 132pp. Inscribed on front free endpaper: "To A. Seemuller, [Jr], Esq / with the sincere esteem of S. Yates Levy," datemarked Savannah, October 5th 1857. Also laid-in is a one-page ALS from Levy to William B. Hodgson (see note below). Bookplate of noted nineteenth-century Georgia historian and bibliophile Charles C. [Colcock] Jones to front pastedown. Recent expert re-backing, with new spine label; mild wear to board extremities; Very Good.
Antebellum Savannah imprint, written by Levy "for Miss Eliza Logan, and published for private distribution." Samuel Yates Levy (1817-1887) was born into a prominent Jewish family of Charleston, South Carolina; he studied law, established a practice in Savannah, and later rose to the rank of Major in the Confederate Army. The Italian Bride appears to have been Levy's only published dramatic work, but he had strong connections to the southern stage; his mother was the well-known actress Fanny Yates Levy and both his sisters were well-known in amateur dramatic circles in Savannah and Charleston.
This copy presents a compelling mènage of associations. The author's inscription is to one A. Seemuller – identity uncertain, but likely the wholesale tobacco broker Augustus Seemuller, of St. Louis, active during this period. Laid-in is a remarkable one-page ALS from Levy to the prominent Savannah author, antiquary and diplomat William Brown Hodgson (namesake of Hodgson Hall, home of the Georgia Historical Society). The letter deals with the disposition of a slave apparently on loan to Levy from Hodgson, and reads, in part, "...I called Stephen ... and gave him his choice to go or stay: with the characteristic obstinacy of the negro he said that he would rather go in the country. He deceived you in saying that we were disatisfied with him: he was the first to complain. I don't want him if he don't want to stay; but will you be kind enough to let him remain for two or three days until I can replace him?" The volume further includes the ownership bookplate of Charles C. [Colcock] Jones, Jr. (1831-1893), the prominent Georgia secessionist and bibliophile who is perhaps best remembered as a central figure in Robert Manson Myers's landmark work Children of Pride (1972). Jones's national reputation as a collector of autographs and manuscripts probably explains the compellingly made-up nature of this volume, whose various associations, though not exactly organic, clearly document an aristocratic Southern lineage.
REF: See Nathans, Hideous Characters and Beautiful Pagans: Performing Jewish Identity on the Antebellum American Stage (Ann Arbor: 2017).