From ‘Where sentimentalists, whether ladies or gentlemen, may become readers’ down to the present • A remarkable survival is found

Recently discovered in the general stacks of Firestone Library:

This volume belongs to Bell’s Circulating Library, containing above two thousand volumes, next door to St. Paul’s Church in Third-Street. Where
sentimentalists, whether ladies or gentlemen, may become readers, by subscribing for one month, three months, or by agreement for a single book. Said Bell hath also very great variety of new and old books for sale; he, likewise, gives ready money for new and old books.

This bookplate appears on the front pastedown of the first volume of Andrew Baxter, 1686?-1750.

An enquiry into the nature of the human soul; wherein the immateriality of the soul is evinced from the principles of reason and philosophy. … . The third edition. To which is added, a complete index.
London : printed [by James Bettenham] for A. Millar in the Strand, MDCCXLV. [1745] [call number:
Ex 5744.155.1745], 2 volumes, together with a 3rd volume being Baxter’s Appendix to the First Part of the Enquiry…. (London, 1750), [call number: Ex 5744.155.1745a]

Chain of provenance from the colonial era down to today:
Bell’s Circulating Library (Philadelphia, fl. 1774-1778) -> Convers Francis, 1819 -> Theological School in Cambridge -> ‘Discarded by Authority of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library’ -> Acquired by Princeton in 1973, classed for the open stacks, then, during reclassification in 2010, it was discovered to have the bookplate of Bell’s Circulating Library, whereupon it was transferred to the rare book division.

Very few books remain from Robert Bell’s Circulating Library. (Robert Bell is best known as the printer of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.) Several books from Bell’s Circulating Library are now held by the Library Company of Philadelphia and there is one at Stanford University. These Princeton volumes add a few more examples to the scant number already known.

Sentimentalists were persons of taste and sentiment. In the eighteenth century, the later term was not derisive, rather it pointed to refined emotional thought.

At LCP, the following at from Bell’s Circulating Library: Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, Aristippe, ou De la cour, Leiden, Elsevier, 1658, 2 vol. and two volumes of Pluche’s multi-volume Spectacle de la Nature; or Nature Displayed (Dublin and London, 1740-49) and

At Stanford, James Burgh’s Political Disquisitions (Philadelphia, 1775), formerly owned by Jay Fliegelman. (Call number JFL-276)

Furthermore, the two 1745 volumes at Princeton have annotations in the hand of Convers Francis, dated 1819, the year of his ordination into the Unitarian clergy. He was a senior member of the Trancendental Club.