A mystery man made the 58th consecutive visit to Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore this morning and was watched by the largest group of onlookers ever, the event's most faithful viewer said.

Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, said 55 people braved a chilly morning to catch a glimpse of the annual visit of a man known as the Poe toaster to the writer's grave.

As he has done previously to mark Poe's birthday, the visitor arrived to place his half-empty bottle of cognac and three red roses at the grave, Jerome said.

Once they realised who he was, the crowd rushed to one of the cemetery's entrances to get a glimpse, and the toaster slipped out another way, Jerome said.

He said this year's crowd was large but well behaved, unlike last year when watchers tried to interfere with the tribute.

Jerome said he would no longer describe the visitor or what he was wearing because of last year's unruly spectators.

Jerome has seen a mystery visitor every January 19 since 1976. Starting in 1949, a frail figure made the visit to Poe's grave.

In 1993, the original visitor left a note saying, "The torch will be passed."

A later note said the man, who apparently died in 1998, had handed the tradition on to his sons.