Skip to content

Bookseller’s label of William A. Colman, engraved by Joseph Perkins

November 11, 2011

This elaborately engraved label is signed: “Engd. by Jos. Perkins, N.Y.” (immediately below the inverted “LATIN” in the border; click on the image for an enlargement).

Perkins was born in Unity, N.H., on August 19, 1788 and died in New York city on April 27, 1842. He graduated from Williams College in 1814, and is documented in Philadelphia as a script engraver from 1818, some of the time in business with Benjamin H. Rand as Rand and Perkins. In 1826, he moved to New York, where in 1828 he joined Asher Brown Durand in New York in the bank-note engraving firm of Durand, Perkins & Co.  After Durand abandoned the business to devote more time to painting (1831), Perkins continued in business at 4 John Street.  (See David McNeely Stauffer, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel, New York, 1907, p. 210; and Wayne Craven, “Asher B. Durand’s Career as an Engraver,” American Art Journal 3:1 [1971], pp. 39-57.)

William A. Colman (sometimes erroneously recorded as “Coleman”) was a book- and print-seller at various locations in New York from at least 1821 until his death in 1850, though recorded at 237 Broadway only in 1829 (see Sidney F. Huttner and Elizabeth Stege Huttner, A Register of Artists, Engravers, Booksellers, Bookbinders, Printers & Publishers in New York City, 1821-42, New York, 1993, p. 58).  He exhibited art as well as selling books; perhaps the most notable instance was his display of Thomas Cole’s earliest Hudson River paintings in late 1825, which led to Cole’s discovery by John Trumbull, William Dunlap, and Asher Durand (see Elise Effmann, “Thomas Cole’s View of Fort Putnam,” The Magazine Antiques [Nov. 2004], pp. [155]-159, citing Dunlap’s account in the New-York Evening Post of November 22, 1825).

Colman’s place among his contemporaries was charmingly set forth in a passage from Thomas Picton’s Fun and Fancy in Old New York:

If the taste of the general community for art works remained ungratified through inspection of old masters, Broadway presented habitual loungers with ample opportunities for viewing a constant succession of choice engravings.  The arrival of each London packet replenished the windows of our leading print dealers and publishers with specimens from the burins of trans-Atlantic artists.  The most popular place of resort with sight seekers was in front of the book store of William A. Colman, in Broadway near Fulton, where behind plate glass windows, duly protected against over pressure by a treble row of iron guards, were displayed the most elaborate products of European skill, so captivating to the sight that not a blooming belle nor courteous beau could pass the establishment without pausing to criticize the art works temptingly exposed.

This label is found on the front pastedown of volume 1 of a copy of Letters on the Study and Use of History (London, 1752), by Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, in the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College.


18th-century editions issued with variant contents

May 21, 2011

Stuart Bennett’s ground-breaking study Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles 1660-1800 (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press; London: The British Library, 2004) records many instances of editions that were offered for sale in different bindings, sometimes with notes in the imprint (or on a half-title) of the different prices for the variant bindings.  My focus here is on a different sort of variation in the form in which copies could be purchased, namely where the actual contents of different copies offered for sale varied, at different prices, though the text was in the same edition.  Two examples recently came to light in the collection formed by Frank H. Ellis and given by him to the Mortimer Rare Book Room of the Smith College Library.

The first is the 1788 edition of The New Whole Duty of Man published by William Bent (ESTC T80504).

A fitting companion to Bennett’s investigations, as its predecessor, Richard Allestree’s Whole Duty of Man,was one of the touchstone examples of Bennett’s investigation, having been immensely popular, appearing in more than fifty editions following its first publication in 1659 (or late 1658) and thus exhibiting many booksellers’ binding variants.  The successor, first published in 1741 by Edward Wicksteed, was perhaps somewhat less popular, but Bent’s 1788 edition styles itself “The twenty-third edition.”  Like most editions of The New Whole Duty, its title page was engraved and faced an engraving of Jesus with Moses and the Ten Commandments, headed with a quotation from Romans 6.14: “Ye are not under the law, but under grace”; the two engravings occupy one side of a bifolium, with letterpress on the other side: the half-title precedes the title opening, and the extensive wording of the royal privilege follows it.

The price is also stated on the half-title: “Price 6 s. and with Cuts 7s. 6d.”  The “cuts” consist of nine additional full-page engravings, on separate leaves, inserted at appropriate places in the text.

Bent published three further editions in the eighteenth century, in 1792, 1795, and 1798, all with successive edition statements on the half-title (as recorded by ESTC).  However, the 1798 edition at least does not record a price, nor variant issue possibilities; the other two editions have not been seen.  All survive in very few copies, as was common for such devotional works that would not likely have found their way contemporaneously into library collections, including Allestree’s original work.

I have a recollection of seeing advertisements for other religious works—perhaps a Bible, or a Book of Common Prayer—offering copies with and without added illustrations, but I’ve not seen the variants and prices noted in the works themselves.

The second example is The Court and City Register; or Gentleman’s Complete Annual Kalendar, for the Year 1795 (ESTC N4865), which was issued both with and without an inserted almanac.

The almanac is not named, but in the Smith College copy and the only other copy located that includes the almanac (at Dalhousie University), it is Rider’s British Merlin (ESTC T45033).  Note the price on the title page, 11d. stitched—but it adds a full shilling to the price when bound with the register.

Information about additional instances of works issued with variant contents will be gratefully received, and the information added here (with full acknowledgment).

Large-print editions of the 18th century “for the curious, aged, and such as cannot use a smaller print”

January 23, 2011

Two cases have recently come to my attention in which large-print editions of popular works were published in the eighteenth century, aimed like modern large-print  books, at those who had difficulty reading smaller type (in each case there were multiple editions in ordinary, smaller type).  Also, James Burmester has drawn my attention to an advertisement emphasizing large type as a selling point.  Any information about other such editions will be gratefully received.  Of course, there are some well-known instances of works (the Bible; the Book of Common Prayer) which were printed in a variety of type sizes as a concomitant of publication in different formats.  My focus here is on editions in which “the type is larger than traditionally expected in the context in which it’s currently appearing” (to quote David Vander Meulen).

Edward Synge, An Answer to All the Excuses, 1744

The records of William Bowyer contain a curious entry for 12 December 1743: “5 shts Answer to Excuses No. 2000 Engl. 12o. Crown at 6s/R | Do. 2 sh. No. 6000” with charges of £6/0/0 and £7/4/0 respectively.  (See K.I.D. Maslen and John Lancaster, The Bowyer Ledgers (London: The Bibliographical Society; New York: The Bibliographical Society of America, 1991), no. 3153.)

This entry for two editions of Edward Synge’s An Answer to All the Excuses and Pretences, which Men Ordinarily Make for Their Not Coming to the Holy Communion, printed simultaneously for the London bookseller Thomas Trye, one taking up five sheets, the other only two, remained puzzling until recently.  An advertisement in another work by Synge, An Essay Towards Making the Knowledge of Religion Easy to the Meanest Capacity, 8th ed. (London: Printed for Thomas Trye, 1744), provided the explanation:

The advertisement (detail from A1v of the copy in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, as reproduced by Eighteenth Century Collections Online, © Cengage)

Books printed for and sold by T. Trye.

… II. An answer to all the excuses…. N.B. This sacrament book … is also printed in a neat pocket size,

In this Large Letter

for the curious, aged, and such as cannot use a smaller print.

Looking then at copies of the 16th and 17th editions of An Answer to All the Excuses, both with imprint “London, Printed for Thomas Trye, near Gray’s-Inn-Gate in Holborn. 1744” (both reproduced in ECCO: Eighteenth Century Collections Online), it is clear that the 17th is the large-print edition.  No other edition with similar paging appears in ESTC, or in Bowyer’s records, and advertisements for large-print copies continue to be found in other works by Synge as late as 1757, so it was apparently not a best-seller.  Copies in the smaller type continued to be printed in quantities, at least through a 36th edition in 1800.

Page 3 (A2r) of the 16th edition (ordinary type). (From a copy in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, as reproduced by Eighteenth Century Collections Online, © Cengage.)

Page 3 (A2r) of the 17th edition (printed in large type). (From a copy in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, as reproduced by Eighteenth Century Collections Online, © Cengage.)

The Judgment of Whole Kingdoms and Nations, 1710

Another advertisement led to discovery of an earlier large-print edition.  This work had considerable popularity because of its connection with the celebrated trial of Henry Sacheverell following his inflammatory sermon of 5 November 1709, attacking Catholics and dissenters, and undermining the Whig government; some 100,000 copies of the sermon were printed, and the affair gave rise to hundreds of pamphlets on both sides, often in series responding one to another, as in this case.  The author of The Judgment is unknown; it has been variously attributed to Daniel Defoe, John Dunton, John Somers, and Gilbert Burnet.

The 4th edition of The Judgment of Whole Kingdoms and Nations, Concerning the Rights, Power, and Prerogative of Kings, and the Rights, Priviledges, and Properties of the People (London: Printed for, and sold by T. Harrison, 1710) has facing the title page a leaf containing both advertisements for this and other works, and a paragraph responding to a work published in answer to The Judgment.

Advertisement in the 4th edition (Houghton Library, Harvard University, *EC7.D3623.A709vd)

Title page of the 4th edition. (Houghton Library, Harvard University, *EC7.D3623.A709vd)

This advertisement does not illustrate the larger type, nor does it suggest the reason a reader might desire a large-type edition, but simply states:

Many gentlemen having desired to have this book in a large print; this is to give notice that it is now printed on nine sheets and a quarter, of very fine paper …

The ordinary-type edition occupies six sheets; so the large-type edition represents about a fifty percent increase in size (whereas the Synge large-type edition was more than twice the size of the ordinary one).

4th edition (ordinary type), page 1. (Houghton Library, Harvard University, *EC7.D3623.A709vd)

5th edition (large type), page 1. (Houghton Library, Harvard University, *EC7.D3623.A709ve)

There were numerous “editions” (through an eleventh) issued by Harrison 1710-1714, but all after the 4th/5th were in fact simply reissues of the sheets of the 4th or 5th edition. For the 4th edition, copies are known of a 6th (1710), another 6th (1713), 8th, 9th, and 10th (all 1713), and 11th (1714). For the 5th edition, reissues as a 6th and 11th (both 1713) are known.

Mary Davys, The Reform’d Coquette, 1736: “printed on a large letter, for the use of antient ladies.”

An advertisement in the Gentleman’s Magazine for July 1736 (p. 427) offers:

The Reform’d Coquette: calculated for the universal benefit of mankind, and printed on a large letter, for the use of antient ladies. By Mrs. Davys. Sold by Ann Dodd; price bound 2s.

However, no edition with Dodd’s name in the imprint has been found, and the 1736 edition recorded by ESTC (4th ed., printed by T. Forbes for J. Stephens) has not been seen; its paging is similar to that of other editions, though the format is recorded as 8vo rather than the 12mo of other editions (so it may indeed be in a larger type).  Though Dodd is not named in the imprint, as a bookseller she may have thought to reach a new segment of the market through her advertisement.

(My thanks to James Burmester for this reference.)

A proof sheet (?) of an unrecorded edition of the metrical psalms printed in Amsterdam, 1646

December 25, 2010

The whole sheet. One cover is detached, making it possible to place the two halves next to one another. (Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, PQ1616.E2 S8 1641 Rare)

The pastedowns in the binding of a book in the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst consist of two halves of a sheet of an edition of the Sternhold-Hopkins metrical psalms, printed in Amsterdam with the curious imprint “Printed for LONDON. Anno Dom. M. D. C. XLVI.” No record of this edition is found in Wing or ESTC. The book within the covers (one of which is detached) is a folio edition of a work by Guillaume de Salluste, seigneur Du Bartas (1544-1590), Du Bartas his diuine weekes and workes: with a compleate collection of all the other most delight-full workes, translated and written by yt famous philomusus, Iosuah Sylvester Gent. (London: Printed by Robert Young with additions, 1641). [ESTC R22142; Wing D2405]

Upon being apprised of this find, Phil Palmer, the Curator of Collections at the Center, set to work and found a 1647 Amsterdam edition of the metrical psalms with almost identical typography and wording of the title page, but with the imprint “AMSTERDAM. Printed for C. P. Anno Dom. M. D. C. XLVII.”   (Wing B2427A; ESTC R175320; reproduced in Early English Books Online [EEBO] from a copy in the National Library of Scotland)  The text of the psalms is however of a completely different setting and layout from that of the Renaissance Center sheet.

Title page of the Renaissance Center sheet. (Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, PQ1616.E2 S8 1641 Rare)

Title page of a 1647 edition. (National Library of Scotland, as reproduced by Early English Books Online, EEBO, © ProQuest)

Another record in ESTC (R236151), without a Wing citation, has the same pagination and same wording of the title and imprint, but printed for “I. C.” rather than “C. P.”; the only copy recorded is at Syracuse University and no reproduction is available.

Further research in ESTC, searching for the phrase “Printed for London”, has turned up one record (S90547) for a Bible in which the New Testament title page has the imprint “Printed for London. Anno Dom. 1646.”—the only occurrence of this phrase found in the ESTC data base. The typography and layout are not similar to that of the psalms shown here, but the general title page for the Bible has the imprint “Edinburgh. Printed by R. Y. Printer to the Kings Most Excellent Maiestie. Cum privilegio. Anno Dom. 1637 [sic].” The imprint is recorded as false by STC, and the edition is one of a series of Amsterdam editions of the Bible with Young’s Edinburgh imprint, all dated 1637 though probably printed post-1640—but the connection with Young’s imprint on the Du Bartas title page is tantalizing. Robert Young, though a London printer, held appointment as the King’s Printer for Scotland.

Might this have been a proof sheet, with a corrected imprint to be added? The reverse of the sheet is also printed, like the front in correct 12mo imposition; is that an argument against the proof-sheet hypothesis?