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Poe Toaster a No Show

Poe's .Burial Marker at Westminster Hall
Poe's .Burial Marker at Westminster Hall
Lisa Merkey

Since 1949 Edgar Allan Poe's grave has been graced by  the presence of a mysterious visitor.  Every year, on the eve of his birthday, a bottle of cognac and 3 roses are left by the large marble statue marking his grave at Westminster Hall in Baltimore. 

The 3 roses are said to be left for Poe, his wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm.  The symbolism  of the cognac has remained a mystery.  Perhaps only being used by the stranger to make a toast in Poe's honor. Several of the bottles of cognac from prior years are on display in the  Poe House and Museum

An occasional note is often left on the grave as well. One such note read "Edgar, I haven't forgotten you." In 1993, a cryptic note was left at the grave saying, "The torch will be passed".  In 1999 another note was left stating that the tradition would be carried out by  "a son". This led many to believe that the original Toaster was being replaced.

Every Year,  a large group of Poe enthusiasts gather at the gates, hoping to catch a glimpse of the "Poe Toaster".  This year, for the first time ever, the stranger did not show, disappointing a 30 plus crowd.

Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House stated  "I've been doing this since 1977, and there was no indication he wasn't going to show up". He oversees the watch for the toaster from inside Westminster Hall.  

Jerome said he plans to keep vigil on Jan. 19 at least through 2012.  We hope this is a tradition that has become "Nevermore".


  • Jamie Harrison 5 years ago

    From WBAL:

    "Rafael Alvarez, President of the Baltimore Poe Society tells WBAL Radio he has a theory about why the mystery admirer did not show up this year. He thinks that person died last week.

    Alvarez says e-mails have been circulating for the past several hours pointing to the late David Franks of Baltimore as the Poe toaster. Franks was found dead in his Baltimore apartment last week. He has been a writer, performer and poet in Baltimore for years.

    "It fit David's love of the prank and the practical joke. And particularly stunts that involve sort of high literary high-wire acts," says Alvarez.

    He says that Franks also wore the same clothes daily like that of the Poe toaster and he fit the physical description. "David had quite the late 19th century English dandy flair for scarves, gloves, and various caps. It would not be unusual for David to don a cape if the situation called for it," says Alvarez."

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