[THE MOON HOAX] GREAT ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES LATELY MADE BY SIR JOHN HERSCHEL, LL.D. F.R.S. &c. AT THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE. [FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE NEW-YORK SUN, FROM THE SUPPLEMENT TO THE EDINBURGH JOURNAL OF SCIENCE.] ... [caption title]. N.p., n.d. [New York: New York Sun Office, 1835.]. Octavo, pp.  2-28, untrimmed, sewn. First edition. First publication in book form of Locke's successful hoax perpetrated in series of six articles published in the NEW YORK SUN, 25-31 August 1835. The revelations, supposedly reprinted from the actually defunct EDINBURGH JOURNAL OF SCIENCE, pretended to reveal a discovery that men and animals existed on the moon and were so cleverly wrought that, for a short time, the report was given credence in scientific circles in the United States and Europe. The report was soon denounced as a hoax by the public press and Richard Adams Locke (1800-1871), a reporter for the SUN, was identified as the perpetrator of the "ingenious astronomical hoax." Interest in the lunar discoveries increased the SUN's circulation to more than nineteen thousand, the largest of any daily of that time. On Friday 28 August 1835, the SUN announced "that a pamphlet edition of the Supplement was being printed. The great work by Herschel, which would discuss his researches completely, was being prepared for publication at considerable price; the SUN would offer the popular substance for twelve or thirteen cents." According to William Gowans who reprinted the story in 1859, the owners of the SUN published sixty thousand copies of it in pamphlet form. The pamphlet was published in September 1835 and every copy was sold in less than a month. Nevertheless, the 1835 printings are rare and only a handful of copies survive. The SUN printed the undated pamphlet in two formats in 1835, one being an 11-page booklet printed in double columns (perhaps reprinted from the SUN's special "Supplements;" only known copy in DLC), the other this single column 28-page pamphlet (of which only 13 copies are known to exist). Locke's "Moon Hoax" was certainly one of the great deceptions of the century. P. T. Barnum, a man who could fairly claim to be an authority on deceptions of the public, called it " the most stupendous scientific imposition upon the public that the generation with which we are numbered has known." Edgar Allan Poe, himself a noted literary hoaxer, called the story "ingenious" and praised Locke's "rich imagination," but lamented its lack of verisimilitude, observing that "it wanted much of the force which might have been given it by a more scrupulous attention to facts and to general analogy. That the public were mislead, even for an instant, merely proves the gross ignorance which is so generally prevalent upon subjects of an astronomical nature." See Anatomy of Wonder (1976) 1-23; and (1981) 1-137. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 1348 and 1349. Clute and Nicholls (eds), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993), p. 728. Howgego, Encyclopedia of Exploration: Invented and Apocryphal Narratives of Travel L44. Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1951), pp. 27-30. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 142 (recording a later edition). Locke, Voyages in Space 130. Bleiler (1978), p. 125. Reginald 09129. Wright (I) 1704a (not recording this printing). See Dictionary of American Biography; and F. M. O'Brien, The Story of the Sun (1918), pp. 64-102. First leaf a bit tanned, some faint scattered foxing, first two leaves irregularly trimmed (as is often the case with this hastily got up booklet). but basically a fine copy, untrimmed as issued (and quite scarce thus). Accompanied by detached old hand-lettered brown wrappers, but these are not original to the pamphlet which was issued sewn with no wrappers. Enclosed in a custom quarter leather clamshell box with rounded spine and elaborate gold tooling. (#168415).
No statement of printing.