The Museum Collection

First Printing of "The Purloined Letter" from The Gift

ID #:
Date: 1844
Format: book
Dimensions: 8.5" x 5.5"
Source: Gift of John W. Robertson
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Publisher: Carey & Hart
Place of Publication: Philadelphia
Publish Date: 1844


The Gift was an annual anthology or gift book. Such gift books had their origins in Germany, and the first such gift book was published in the United States appeared in 1826. These anthologies flourished in the 1830s and 1840s, and The Gift (along with The Token) was the nation's best. Poe found a willing publisher for his tales in The Gift beginning in 1836 with "Ms. Found in a Bottle" and continuing through 1845 with "The Purloined Letter." Poe was paid $12 for this story, which appeared on pages 41-61.

"The Purloined Letter" is Poe's third and final mystery to feature his fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin. (The other two stories were "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget.") In July 1844, Poe wrote James Russell Lowell, "'The Purloined Letter,' forthcoming in the 'Gift,' is perhaps, the best of my tales of ratiocination." The story was immensely popular in the United States and Europe. Within weeks of its first printing, the tale was translated into French and published in Paris.