The “People’s Charter”: a new acquisition

People’s Charter, An Act to provide for the just Representation of the People of Great Britain & Ireland in the Commons’ House of Parliament. London, Whiting (Printer) (1839) [Call number: (Ex) Oversize 2010-0068Q] Broadside, overall 20” x 20”, decorative border and text printed entirely in red, in 6 columns. Broadside has been in scrap album with part of brown guard still attached. In pencil at upper right: “Presented to the Commons by T.W. Attwood”

The “People’s Charter” was of major importance in the attempt to reform Parliament and obtain suffrage for men. Early in 1838 a group of the newly formed Chartists (one of the first working class movements in the world) met and decided to draft a document known as the “People’s Charter” which took the form of a Parliamentary Bill. It’s draughtsmen were William Lovett, secretary of the London Working Men’s Association, and Francis Place, a Charing Cross tailor. The Charter contained 6 demands: 1. Universal suffrage for men over 21. 2. Equal sized electoral distribution. 3. Voting by secret ballot. 4. End of property qualification for Parliament. 5. Payment for M.P’s 6. Annual election of Parliament. It was presented to Parliament by Thomas Attwood but suffered rejection. However the seeds of discontent were sown and after a period of meetings and riots the objects of their demands were mostly met.

Reform Catechism

Reform Catechism. To which is added the Important Clause in the Reform Act; inasmuch, as it tends to deprive Nine-tenths of the People of their Elective Franchise. [London] T. Birt, 39 Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials [1832 / 1833] [Call number: (Ex) Item 5987680]

This broadside evokes the term ‘imprint’ in two senses. On the one hand, there is the inky fingerprint adjacent to the printer’s name. Could this be Thomas Birt’s own?

On the other hand, we are reminded of the fervor of democratic reform, nowadays appearing on the front pages of our newspapers. Even though the Reform Act of 1832 broadened representation in Parliament and enlarged the franchise, there was still discontent because of an exclusion clause. No vote was allowed to the many owning or tenant in properties valued under £10.

According to his other publications, Thomas Birt maintained a “wholesale and retail Song and Ballad Warehouse” and further declared “Country orders punctually attended to. Every description of printing on reasonable terms. Children’s books, battledores, pictures, &c.”

Translations of The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria

The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria is Mary Wollstonecraft’s unfinished novel, first published in 1798, just one year after her death. It appeared as the initial two volumes of her Posthumous Works, and in the same year was reprinted in Dublin. In Philadelphia, it was published separately in 1799. It is still in print today. It is studied and widely regarded on a variety of levels: as among the earliest form of the feminist novel, for example.

Within seventeen years after publication, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria was published in French, German, and Italian. These have been little studied. Recently purchased for the collections were the first French translation (1798) and the first dated Italian translation (1815). Only a very few American libraries hold the French. Our purchase of the Italian is the only recorded copy in an American library
Call number for the French: Ex Item 5943134; for the Italian: Ex Item 5950717.

Note the frontispieces. The French is directly taken from the English original. Whereas, the Italian is completely different; rather than the author, it portrays the character Maria. The caption “Sol per te mia figlia me rincresce il morire” renders Maria’s words in the final scene “The conflict is over – I will live for my child!”

See it now: “one object that few can have ever seen: … a Renaissance iPad.”

New York Times writer, Edward Rothstein concludes his review of the current exhibition at the Morgan Library:

“… it has one object that few can have ever seen: a rare pocket-size calendar from 1609 with blank pages treated with coatings of gesso and glue. Using a stylus (no ink required), the owner could keep a diary without worrying about either honesty or secrecy. Instructions are given for treatment after writing: “Take a little peece of Spunge, or a Linnencloath, being cleane without any soyle: wet it in water” and “wipe that you have written very lightly, and it will out, and within one quarter of a hower you may write in the same place againe.” It is the first erasable diary, a Renaissance iPad.”

Here’s the Princeton exemplar, an edition from ca. 1605: [Writing tables with a kalendar for xxiiii. yeeres, with sundry necessarie rules. The tables made by Robert Triplet] [London, c. 1605?] 16mo in eights, 29 leaves (of 32) only (wanting A1, C4 and D8). Call number: Ex Item 5627567. Acquired in July 2009.

The Book of the Nineteenth Century • The Story of Labor

Recently acquired: Promotional poster (36 x 24 inches) for John Cameron Simonds,The Story of Manual Labor in All Lands and Ages. Chicago: R. S. Peale & Co., 1887, (‘C SOLD ONLY BY SUBSCRIPTION’), together with a copy of the book itself and a four-color advertising brochure.[Call numbers: poster (Ex Item 5875923), book (Ex Item 5876150), brochure (Ex Item 5876134)]

From the Preface:

“Of late, a change has overtaken the Muse of history. Interest has been awakened, not in the general, but in the soldier; not in the king, but in the subject; not in the noble, but in the peasant. Thoughtful men are now asking: What of the artisan ? What of the mechanic? What of the farmer?

… The minds of men are no longer bewitched by the genius of Napoleon Bonaparte; all eyes are now turned to the Third Estate, and that proletariat that shattered one of the most hoary and brilliant monarchies of Europe, and shook the political foundations of the Old World to the very center.

Our book is a response to this change in public opinion. But in this age of innumerable books, it may be reasonably asked: Why should this book be written? We answer: Because a similar book has not been written. It is the story of manual labor in all lands and ages. So far as known to the authors, there is not a similar book in the English language, and it may be said, indeed, in any language.”


For three other pairings of subscription book promotional poster together with the book itself see:

‘So striking that it sells on sight’ • ‘The only non-sectional historical war adventure book’
[Book and poster for Deeds of Daring by Blue and Gray (1886)]

Life in Utah; or, The mysteries and crimes of Mormonism(ca. 1870) (WA) BX8645 .B3 1871 (book) and (WA) BX8645 .xL5e (poster)

History of the Donner Party: a tragedy of the Sierras (1879) (WA) Rollins 1636 (book) and (WA) Item 5868704 (poster)

The Artists’ Fund Society of the City of New York: a recently acquired set of their sale catalogues, 1860-1889

Part of the story of the rising professional self-consciousness among American artists during the nineteenth century is the creation of art academies and associations. Following a model first set up in Philadelphia, artists in New York in 1859 set up “The Artists’ Fund Society.”

“The name of this association shall be ” The Artists’ Fund Society.” Its location, the city of New York. Its objects, the accumulation of a fund for the aid of its members in disablement, in sickness and distress, and the assistance of the widows, children, and families of deceased members.” —Extract from the Consitution, Article 1, Name.

Funds were raised chiefly by an annual auction of member’s paintings. More than twenty seven auctions were held between 1860 and 1889. The Library now has an extensive set of the catalogues for these sales. [Call number: (Ex) Item 5732011. At right is a clipping about the 1875 sale, laid into the catalogue for that year.] Many are priced by member David Johnson (1827-1908). Some has his comments. Such priced catalogues are a unique source for tracking changing art values, shifts in taste, as well as supplying raw data for establishing an artist’s oeuvre.

A brief history of the fund is given in the catalogue for the 26th sale (1886):

“After the death of Mr. Ranney, which occurred twenty-six years ago, his pictures were sold at auction, for the benefit Of his widow and children. A specific sum of money being required to relieve a mortgage on the house in which his widow lived, his brother artists determined each to contribute a picture to be sold with, the Ranney collection. To accomplish this end the business required an organization, and the necessary officers were duly appointed.

At the close of this generous act on the part of the artists-the pecuniary results being much larger than they had hoped. for-it was resolved to Continue the organization, in order to be prepared to meet any similar emergency in the future. Several plans by which the object might be effected were brought forward and discussed arid finally the one by which the ‘Artists’ Fund Society’ is now governed was unanimously adopted and in 1861 its charter was obtained from the State.

For twenty-six years the Society has been enabled-from the funds accruing from its annual sales-to afford relief in time cases of misfortune common to all classes of professional men. Since its commencement it has paid thousands of dollars to widows and orphans of deceased members, besides relieving many cases of actual need among the living.

The Society has three funds; the First for the widows and orphans of deceased members; the Second for the relief of members; and the Third a Benevolent Fund which is used to meet the wants of artists not members of the Society.

The first two funds are kept supplied by the annual sales of works contributed by the members. The third fund is made up by donations in pictures or money, from those interested in artists who have been unfortunate through sickness and other causes.

Mrs. A. T. Stewart, some years ago, donated to the Society $2,000 and Mrs. Edwin White, $1,000, which sums were placed to the credit of this fund, invested in U. S. Government bonds, yielding a small but sure revenue, which is judiciously administered by the Board of Control after favorable report by a regular ‘Visiting Committee.’ This Benevolent Fund is inadequate to meet the demands which are constant and increasing.”

Newly acquired: Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (Istanbul, 1803)

(Right) Curator John Delaney, holding front cover, remarks on the Atlas
to colleagues associated with the Near Eastern Studies Program: James Weinberger, Michael Cook, Sükrü Hanioglu, Michael Laffan, Svat Soucek.
[Photograph courtesy of William Blair]

(Above) Title page of the Atlas. [Call number: Historic Maps, item 5745136]

(Below) Detail of east coast in the map of North America.

Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections announces the acquisition of a rare Ottoman imprint, Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (New Atlas Translation). Printed in Istanbul in 1803 in an edition of just fifty copies, the Atlas is the first Muslim-published world atlas based upon European geographic knowledge and cartographic methods. The Library of Congress reports just seven extant copies in Istanbul, and it appears that there are only three others in the U.S.: Library of Congress [see LC’s announcement], the Newberry Library, and the John Carter Brown Library [see JCB’s note(item 30)]. These are the only known complete copies outside of Turkey.

The Atlas is based upon the General Atlas of the Four Grand Quarters of the World of William Faden, a copy of which was acquired by Mahmud Raif Efendi when he was a private secretary at the Ottoman embassy in London. While still in London, Mahmud Raif Efendi wrote a geographic work, İcalet (or Ucalet) ül-Coğrafya, in French. This 80-page geographical study was translated into Turkish, printed in 1804, and bound with the Cedid Atlas Tercümesi. This modernizing bureaucrat is also the author of Tableau des Nouveaux Reglemens de l’Empire Ottoman, a work describing military reforms undertaken in the empire. Princeton also owns a copy of this important work.

The purchase of Cedid Atlas Tercümesi was made possible by funds from two sources: the Rare Books Division and the Friends of the Princeton University Library. For more information, contact John Delaney (, curator of Historic Maps.

Book Trade Archive Deemed Dispersible: G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass., 1830s-1860s

About two years ago, 19th century American book trade circulars, announcements, advertisements and such like ephemera started appearing on the antiquarian market. They all had one thing in common — they were originally once part of the 19th century business records and working papers of the successful American dictionary publisher G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass. How and why did this happen?

The short answer, I am told, is that a branch of the Merriam family put them into the hands of a bookseller in Tolland, CT., the firm Eclectibles. Even though substantial, important parts of the company archives were already preserved in two major research libraries (Yale [GEN MSS 370] and the American Antiquarian Society[Mss. Dept., Mss. boxes “G”]), this trove was deemed dispersible. And, scatter it did. Here’s a list of booksellers who in turn hived off portions from the Eclectibles tranche: Peter Luke (New Baltimore, NY), Robert Rubin (Brookline, MA), M & S Rare Books (Providence, RI), James Arsenault (Arrowsic, ME), Lawbook Exchange (Clark, NJ), David Lesser (Woodbridge, CT), Between the Covers (Gloucester City, NJ), Bartleby’s Books (Washington, DC), Richard Thorner (Manchester, NH), Bookworm and Silverfish (Rural Retreat, VA), … (and others yet to be identified.)

Curators, historians, private collectors, and library donors have been following this dispersal. While it is not yet fully known where bits and pieces have come to rest, the following table summarizes institutional holdings:

• American Antiquarian Society – Adding Merriam items to its broadside collection, such as two items listed in its recent ‘2010 Adopt a Book’ catalog. See numbers 58 and 65.

• Dartmouth College Library — Richard Thorner, chair of the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library purchased and donated a small collection of Merriam material relating to Dartmouth. These can be discovered in the Library’s catalog by searching the terms “Charles and George Merriam” joined with “Dartmouth College”

• Princeton University Library — About 20 items, dating between 1834 and 1868, recently acquired, such as the 1854 circular pictured above. More items will be added. Holdings can be found by searching for “Merriam Company records” in the Library’s main catalog.

• Yale Law School — More than 30 items: “catalogues, invoices, book orders, prospectuses, and advertisements …[which] demonstrate Merriam’s importance to mid-nineteenth century legal publishing and the nature of the field at that time.” See:

Even though the dispersal has proceeded briskly in the past two years, as of March 18, 2010, Eclectibles (Tolland, CT) had the following (to quote my notes):

“Business records relating to the G & C Merriam wholesale and retail book trade during the 1830s to the 1860s. Total of about 1200 to 1300 items, consisting of the following record groups:

1. Invoices, incoming printed circulars such as stock listings and trade sale announcements, covering letters for shipments, requests for consignments – all from publishers and booksellers from chiefly the major centers (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati) as well as from country locales such as Great Barrington, Mass. About 750 items in this group, distributed into 6 folders and 6 loose leaf binders. Folders and binders cover sub-arrangements such as: incoming records with publishers of children’s books, incoming records with San Francisco publishers such as Bancroft, incoming materials with southwestern US publishers, a notebooks of about 30 printed trade sales announcements chiefly from Bangs (NYC), etc.

2. Freight shipment receipts for payment by Merriam to various RR and steamboat firms. Such are still in docketed bundles. About 500 items.

3. Bills of lading incoming material, ca 75 items.”

Someday, I am hoping to report that this remaining, residual group has been acquired by a research library, thus preserving a remarkable asset for understanding American book history.

UPDATE – October 4, 2010 — Today, Eclectibles (Tolland, CT) reported that the tranche of Merriam material held by them has been acquired by the Beinecke Library at Yale University and is now in Yale’s possession.

Friendship’s Offering wears a most captivating appearance” • 1825

Recently acquired: an extraordinarily well-preserved example of a 19th century literary gift annual, a genre of artfully confected book issued for the holiday season, featuring contemporary poetry, essays, travel description, music, exquisite illustration (color as well as black and white), together with fine paper and superb printing.

Friendship’s Offering, or the Annual Remembrancer: a Christmas Present, or New Year’s Gift, for 1825. (London: Lupton Relfe, 13, Cornhill). Dimensions: 14.5 x 9.5 x 2.5 cm. Gift edges. Case includes original purple silk ribbon pull. Bookseller’s ticket on front pastedown: Zanetti & Agnew. Repository of Arts, 94 Market Street, Manchester.

As described in “List of Plates” on page [ix]:
Above left: “Illuminated external Embellishment” • above right: “Illuminated Title Page”

(Left) Spine of paper case (“external Embellishment”) • (Right) Front cover with blind embossing

For contemporary opinion, see:
[Review]. The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 94 (1824), p. 445

“The example of Mr. Ackermann, who has the merit of first introducing from the Continent this species of annual literature, has been followed by two powerful rivals. The first of these which comes under our notice, “Friendship’s Offering,” wears a most captivating appearance, not only as far as external embellishment, embossing, illuminating, &c. but from the beauty of the engravings and the interest of many of its articles, which are original compositions of no ordinary cast. The success of a trial last year has evidently stimulated the proprietors to increased efforts. The present volume contains Views of Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Berne, and Naples, with good Descriptions. Copies of celebrated Pictures, after Murillo, Claude, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Westall, Stothard, &c. The original articles bear the names of Mrs. Opie, Miss M. Edgeworth, Rev. T. Dale, H. E. Lloyd, esq. &c.&c. At the end of the volume is a blank Diary for memoranda, headed by 12 very neat wood engravings of antient castles, churches, &c. all in the county of Kent.

The aim of the editor of “Friendship’s Offering” appears to have been to combine the elegance of art and flowers of literature with the utility of the superior class of pocket-books, and in this (with the deficiency of an almanack, which would have necessarily much increased the price) he has in a great degree succeeded.”

“A print … is a lesson which all capacities may learn”: Starvation in 18th century England

“I think it necessary to assign the reasons why I have annex’d to this Narrative a plate, that must strike HOME to the hearts of the most harden’d, and prove to the most humane, offensive.; but it ought to be remember’d, that many people who are able to read, and even to write, are, nevertheless, unable to understand what they do read; and many such persons, I fear, are intrusted with the care of the poor. A print, therefore, to such people, is a lesson which all capacities may learn; it is a language every man can read; and as it has some, though very faint resemblance, of the deathly figures from whence it was taken, I flatter myself, it may make a deep and permanent impression on the minds of those men, who are disposed to forget that we are all made of the same composition; and that the day is not very remote, that even the youngest, the fairest, and the most beautiful part of the creation must fade, and become an object in the grave, at least, as ghastly as any of these. I must likewise bespeak the favour of the candid reader, to excuse the many errors of my pen: it was wholly written in the evening of a day, most disagreeably employed in a capacity in which I never served before, and hope I never shall again; a day, in which my mind has been distracted, not only by seeing shocking deformities in death, but in life also; a day, in which I have seen men, sinking with age and infirmities into the grave, violating with oaths and lies, the consecrated ground, which in a few months, (perhaps days,) may cover their bodies for ever.”

— Philip Thicknesse, An Account of The Four Persons Found Starved to Death, at Datchworth in Hertfordshire. By one of the Jurymen on the Inquisition taken on their Bodies. The Second Edition, with Additions. London: Printed (for the Benefit of the surviving Child) for W. Brown…; and R. Davies…. 1769, page 9-10. [Acquired in November 2009; call number (Ex) Item 5642061. According to the English Short Title Catalogue no copy of this Second Edition is recorded as being in a North American library. Princeton’s acquisition of this copy is being reported to ESTC accordingly.]

“In 1769, … a retired officer with a restless moral conscience, Philip Thicknesse, wrote a horrifying account, accompanied with an equally horrifying print, of Four Persons Found Starved to Death, at Datchworth. Such things were not supposed to happen in Hertfordshire, in what were called the Home Circuits surrounding the capital.

But there were probably as many wretched people like the Datchworth victims in the south (especially in the impoverished southwest of England) than in … Northumbria. For it was in southern England that the social results of ‘rural improvement’ — for good as well as for ill — were most dramatically apparent, especially in the lean years of the 1760s, when a succession of wheat harvest failures sent prices soaring and unleashed food riots in the towns and cities all the way from London to Derbyshire.”
— Simon Schama, A History of Britain: The Fate of the Empire, 1776-2000. New York: Hyperion, 2002, page 33.

More on the Datchworth victims from the RSC in London: