An eight-page pamphlet that sold for one (British) penny in the 1820s is for sale on eBay at $999.99. Its subject: the 1820 wreck of the whaleship Essex, upon which Moby-Dick is partly based.
Author Herman Melville read the horrific story of castaways and cannibalism in a memoir by Essex first mate Owen Chase, who was rescued after three months spent floating in a whaleboat in the Pacific Ocean. This booklet comes at the story from a different angle: that of the three crewmen who chose to stay behind on desolate Henderson Island and were later rescued.
If this pamphlet isn’t expensive enough for you, there’s another copy online priced at $1,950.
Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.