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Michele Melcher Illustration, Philadelphia based illustrator, artist, painter.

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Illustration of The "Poe Toaster" for Baltimore Magazine.

Michele Melcher

Who IS the Poe Toaster and when will they show up?

Who IS the Poe Toaster and when will they show up?

I recently had the opportunity to work on a really interesting assignment for Baltimore Magazine about the "Poe Toaster" tradition. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this curious character, here is the backstory:

Beginning in 1949 (or possibly somewhat earlier), on the night of the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth (as January 18th becomes January 19th), a mysterious stranger has entered the cemetery and left as tribute a partial bottle of cognac and roses on Poe’s grave. The identity of the stranger, referred to affectionately as the “Poe Toaster,” is unknown. Out of respect, no attempt is made to stop or hinder him. Several of the bottles of cognac from prior years are kept at the Baltimore Poe House and Museum.

On January 19, 2012, after three successive years in which there was no appearance from the “Toaster,” the tradition was declared officially over. However, in 2015, the Poe Society of Baltimore and the Maryland Historical Society held a contest to choose a new Poe Toaster. That person was selected in November and will make his/her first official appearance this January (2016). At this time, the Historical Society and the Poe Society refuse to divulge any details on the new Toaster including the person’s identity, what his/her costume will look like, what his/her tradition will consist of, etc. The only details that are given is that it will still take place at Poe’s grave at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground on January 18-19, 2016.

More information about Westminster Hall and Burying Ground can be found here.

Information about Edgar Allen Poe's Grave the Poe Toaster tradition can be found here.

Big thanks to Kellie at Baltimore Mag for the Art Direction!