Spine Title: Penny Chap Book • Vol. 1.

Eight titlepages • typical of the whole

This new accession is a curious mix of 38 short works. Bound together in one single volume are some of a hyper-Protestant character (that is, anti-Romanist, anti-Mormon), some of the ‘Newgate Calendar class’(stories of criminals and their punishment), some on popular leisure (‘comic songs,’ ‘authentic history of the prize ring’) and others dealing with fires, massacres, tortures, atrocities, ‘the confessions of an undertaker,’ as well as the story of one of ‘the pretty horsebreakers of Rotten Row.’ Price of each? At least one pence, never more than 2. Readers were always told where to obtain copies, such as at the office of “H. Elliot, 475, New Oxford Street” but usually never does the pamphlet give its date of publication. Typographic style, textual content, method of illustration and other factors date and place them in the London penny press trade of the 1850s and 1860s. Taken as a whole, the volume is a marvelous array of cheap reading targeting the interests of the British working classes.

A goodly number of the penny and tuppence pamphlets in this new accession are not recorded as being held in research libraries in either the UK or the US. This makes sense because in the day of their publication, library collecting dogma did not consider their content and ephemeral form appropriate for what was deemed a ‘permanent’ collection. By the mid-twentieth century, this dogma had been replaced by a total reversal of doctrine. Ephemera of this sort was and continues to be considered the quotidian building stones of research collections.

Recently acquired • Bound in one volume with spine title: Penny Chap Book • Vol 1. A collection of 38 publications, priced 1d and 2d, printed during the 1850s and 1860s, chiefly in London.

Call number (Ex) Item 5623495


1. The Trials and Vicissitudes in the Life of Villiers Pearce. 
Printed & published by H. Elliot, 1856. Yellow wraps. 2d.  16pp.

2. An Authentic History of Freemasonry, ... 
Printed & published by . Elliot, 1853.
Illus. Yellow wraps. 2d.  16pp.

3. Priests and their Victims; or, Scenes in a Convent.  
Printed & published by H. Elliot, 1852. 
Illus. Yellow wraps. 2d.  16pp.

4. Confessions of a Detective Policeman: ... 
Printed & published by H. Elliot, [c.1852]. 
Illus. cutting inserted. Yellow wraps. 2d.  16pp.

5.  Mormon Revelations, being the history of fourteen females, ... 
Printed & published by H. Elliot, [c.1858]. 
Illus. cutting inserted. Yellow wraps. 2d. 16pp..  
*Title headed: Appalling Disclosures!

6. Bennett's Official Account of the Great Fire 
near London Bridge, Shocking death of Mr. Braidwood, 
and great loss of life. 
Printed & published for the booksellers, [1861]. 
Two column text 16pp.

7. The life, Death, and Burial of the late Mr. James Braidwood. 
A.P. Shaw, [1861]. Port., illus. cutting inserted.  8pp.

8. The Dreadful Fire at the Wharves, near London Bridge 
with the death of Mr. Braidwood. H.Disley, printer, [1861].  
Quarter sheet broadside, largely in verse.

9. The Yelverton Ballad and Love Songs, ... 
and Extraordinary Marriage of Teresa 
Longworth and Major Yelverton, ... 
E. Harrison, [1862]. Portraits, largely in verse. 8pp.

10. The Yelverton Marriage Case, ... Verdict of the Jury. 
Sold by Winn, [1861]. Tide headed: Price one penny. 8pp.

11. Narrative of the Massacres of Christians in Syria. 
Dreadful sufferings of women, and children cut to shreds, ... 
H. Vickers. Illus.id.  8pp.

12. Dassel, Adolph von. The Melancholy History and 
Miserable End of the Two Monsters of the Continent, the 
Communist Ox and the Socialist Ass.  Published by 
the Propaganda of Good Sense (A. Munro), 1851. 
Without the engraving, first leaf 
slightly torn at inner margin. 16pp.

13. The Life and Death together with the Extraordinary 
Exploits of the redoubtable Gen. Havelock, ... 
Elliot, Panic, 1858. 1d. 8pp.

14. The Dream of Miltiades; or, The Fall of Sebastopol. 
By the Author of "The Battle of Inkermann". 
Brighton: printed at C.Tourle's Office, [1856?]. 
Verse. Yellow wraps.  8pp. 
*'The Battle of Inkermann' may be 
the poem by a retired Liverpool Merchant, 1855.

15. The Original Comic Song Book, 
compiled by Hardwick, Labern, Ramsay, &c. ... No. 11. 
Pattie, [c. 1850]. Illus.  1d. 8pp.

16. (Young, James) The Rev. C.H. Spurgeon in a 
Fix, and Completely Confounded. 
Printed & published by James Young, [1863]. 1d. 7pp. 
James Young who signs the pamphlet on p.7, 
describes himself as a convert to the Jewish religion.

17. Mysteries of Mormonism. A history of the rise 
and progress of the notorious Latter Day Saints, ... 
H. Wilson, [c.1855]. 1d.  8pp.

18. Anti-Conspirator, pseud. 
 Regicide. Are refugees our enemies.  
Is Napoleon our ally.  J. Allen, 1858. 1d.  8pp.

19. An Authentic History of the Prize Ring 
and Championships of England, ... 
(Verbatim account from "The Times" and "Bell's Life" newspapers.)  
Diprose & Bateman, [1860]. 16pp.

20. (Wilkes, George).  A True Narrative of the Horrid Tortures 
practised in Naples, ... the Virgin's Kiss ... By an eye witness. 
H. Vickers, [c. 1860].  Illus. 1d.  8pp.

21. Watts, John. The Criminal History of the Clergyman. (No. 1.) 
Compiled byJ. Watts. Holyoake & Co., [1857]. 2d. 16pp.

22. The Dangers of Crinoline, Street Hoops, &c. 
G. Vickers, [1858]. Illus. 1d.  16pp.

23. The What is it? The extraordinary adventures, 
startling revelations, 
and narrow escapes of Du Chaillu, ... 
Printed & published at the City Printing Press, [c.1860?]. Illus. 
Front  wraps with repeat illus. hand col. 2d. 16pp.

24. The Five Great Americans ... Gough, Northrop, Finney, 
Rarey, and Heenan. H.J. Tresidder. 
(Leaders of the day, no. 4.) July, 1860. 1d.  8pp.

25. The Reverend Charles Haddon Spurgeon's Continental Tour. 
H.J. Tresidder. (Leaders of the day, no. 10.) [c.1860]. 12pp.

26. The life of His Late Royal Highness the Prince 
Consort, with an account of his last moments, ... 
5th edn. W. Oliver, [1862]. Port 1d.  16pp.

27. A Full Account of the Windham Lunacy Case,
 with anecdotes ... 
Elliott, [1862]. Port.  1d. Misbound but complete. 20pp.

28. Williams, Dr.  A Thunderbolt 
for Colenso, the 
Heretic Bishop of Natal. 
Elliot, [1862?]. 1d.  16pp.

29. Appalling Narrative of Russian Atrocities: 
... By a Polish Exile. 
H. Vickers, [c.1860]. Illus.1d.  8pp.

30. Midnight Meetings and the Social Evil !!! 
The life of Lucy Anderson, one of the pretty horsebreakers 
of Rotten Row, written by herself. 
Elliot, [c.1860]. Illus.1d.  8pp.

31. Tommey, Henry, Sen.  Let Justice be done!
The startling narrative of an old veteran who served 
under Wellington ... 
Printed & published by H. Tommey, 1863. 
Orig. green wraps. 1d. 12pp.

32. Mr. Somes and his foolish, mischievous, and obnoxious Beer Bill 
and its tyrannical effects upon the Working Classes; 
... Sunday riots in Hyde Park. 
Farrah & Dunbar; J. & H. Purkess, &c. 1 1d.  8pp.

33. The Astounding Confessions of an Undertaker, 
... Shocking Disclosures. 
News Agents' Publishing Co., [c.186-?]. Illus. 16pp.

34. The Manchester Murders. 
Manchester: John Heywood; London: G. Vickers, [1862?[. 
Illus. 16pp. 
*Sent by post with 1d stamp to M. Beggs, 37 Southampton St., London.

35. Mormon Disclosures ... 
Liverpool: James Gage. [c.l860?]. 1d.  16pp. 
*The same text as 'Mormon Revelations' q.v.

36. The Three Skeletons: a ghostly Christmas story. 
Revelations of a French physician. 
The mysterious casket. The burning furnace. 
The lost child. E. Harrison, [1862?]. 
Illus.,  two column text. 1d.  16pp.

37. O'Kane v. Lord Palmerston.  
All about the great scandal ... 
Published at the Office of the "City News", [1863]. 
With cutting tipped in at front & 4 at end. 1d.  8pp.

38. The Disgraceful Death of an English judge, 
in a House of Ill-Fame. Leeds: T. Pinder, [1884]. Illus.(8 pp.)  
*Added later to the collection.

Finding annotated books

Earlier this year, the Library acquired a remarkable book consisting of eight texts selected from Aristotle’s Organon and Nicomachean Ethics. The texts were published in Paris by Denis du Pré and Gabriel Buon between 1569 and 1573 and bound in two volumes.

Their owner, Pierre Maillet, of Lyon, intensively annotated the texts while attending lectures given by Nicolas de Bonvilliers, from November 1573 to September 1574, at the Collège de la Marche in Paris. His annotations are interlinear, in the margins and on inserted pages. Maillet dates and signs his notes several times and names his teacher in a note in French on fol. 95v of the Ethics. Call number for the Maillet volumes: (Ex) 2009-0499N

Princeton owns other comparably annotated Renaissance texts. A number of these are reported in the Princeton University Library Chronicle. Ann M. Blair, “Lectures on Ovid’ Metamorphoses: The Class Notes of a 16th-Century Paris Schoolboy” (L,2 [Winter 1989], p. 117-144 [ full text] and Anthony Grafton, “Gabriel Harvey’s Marginalia: New Light on the Cultural History of Elizabethan England” (LII,1 [Autumn 1990], p. 21-24 [ full text].

Also see Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986) for discussion of the volume of texts annotated in 1572 by Gerardus de Mayres from lectures by Claude Mignault [Call number for these Renaissance editions is (Ex)PA260.xC6.1550].

But, in addition to the Renaissance, in general, how does one find books with contemporary annotations in the Princeton rare book collections?

Go to the Main Catalog -> catalog.princeton.edu. The opening screen is headed ‘Basic Search.’ In the search box, enter ‘annotations provenance,’ then search by subject heading. You will see a list that looks like this.

To use this table of results, click on a link of interest, such as ‘Annotations (Provenance)—16th century.’ You get a list of 79 books, each individually described.

A list such as this allows analysis of holdings. Here is a table in rank order of rare books at Princeton signaled as having handwritten annotations, usually contemporary. Detail about the kind of notation varies for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, for those seeking primary evidence about a reader’s response to a text, searching ‘annotations provenance’ is the way to start.

279 Annotations (Provenance)
79  Annotations (Provenance)--16th century.
57  Annotations (Provenance)--18th century.
57  Annotations (Provenance)--19th century.
35  Annotations (Provenance)--20th century.
26  Annotations (Provenance)--'Collated and perfect'
24  Annotations (Provenance)--17th century.
22  Annotations (Provenance)--England--19th century.
14  Annotations (Provenance)--15th century.
3   Annotations (Provenance)--United States--New Jersey--Princeton--19th century.
2   Annotations (Provenance)--France--18th century
2   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--16th century.
2   Annotations (Provenance)--Italy--15th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--18th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--20th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--19th century
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Paris--1556.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Paris--1560.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Strasbourg--1515.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--17th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--Frankfurt am Main--1793.
1   Annotations (Provenance) Germany--Tübingen-- 16th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Italy--Venice--1487.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Switzerland--Basel--1511.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--United States--New Jersey--Princeton--20th century.

‘So striking that it sells on sight’ • ‘The only non-sectional historical war adventure book’

Pictures! Stories! Action! Available via a canvasser or direct from the publisher. In red and black on title page:

“Deeds of Daring by Both Blue and Gray … Thrilling narratives of personal adventure, exploits of scouts and spies, forlorn hopes, heroic bravery, patient endurance, imprisonments and hair-breadth escapes, romantic incidents, hand to hand struggles, humorous and tragic events, perilous journeys, bold dashes, brilliant successes, magnanimous actions, etc., on each side the line during the great Civil War … Profusely illustrated.”

Publisher: “Scammell & Company, established 1868. Philadelphia, Pa.: 610 Arch Street. Saint Louis, Mo.: 203 Pine Street.”

Recently acquired illustrated broadside advertising revised edition (1886). The book was published by subscription: “Agents wanted! Write at once for terms, and name your choice of territory: or, to secure it instantly, send $1.00 for complete agent’s outfit, which will be forwarded by return mail postpaid. … If $3.00 are sent, not only the complete outfit, but also a fine leather copy of the complete book will be forwarded, if you sincerely pledge yourself to canvass.”

Call number: (Ex) Item 5360010

Cover and spine of recently acquired first edition (1883)

Call number: (Ex) Item 5370350

“This volume does not assume to be a formal history, nor even to relate more than a modicum of the innumerable incidents of personal adventure and examples of bravery exhibited on both sides during the Civil War. But it is believed to be the first volume in which a representative collection has ever been made of such examples by both Federal and Confederate participants, impartially related. Many have been the books which have been written and published from each interested standpoint, in which the coloring of the narrative by the prejudices of the writer was only too evident. Such books were necessarily (and not improperly) one-sided in view. But is there not abundant room for a volume that shall exhibit those traits of personal courage which all Americans claim to be a common heritage? In the belief that there is such room, and that, after the lapse of a generation of time, the most captious can hardly demur, there is here given the only collection of authenticated exploits by both the Blue and the Gray yet made, and one of nearly seventy chapters.” — D. M. Kelsey (preface, opening paragraph)

For more on subscription publishing in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century, see: Amy M. Thomas, “There Is Nothing So Effective as a Personal Canvass”: Revaluing Nineteenth-Century American Subscription Books,” Book History (1998), vol 1, p. 140-155.

Reading Decorative Papers: From the Legal to the Forbidden

A book historian has said: “Printers print sheets, but binders make books.” That dictum is well shown by close examination of the bindings on these two books.

The first example is from the library of John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration, and President of College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). It is volume 29 of his collection of sixty bound volumes of pamphlets. Most are bound with boards covered with decorative papers, usually marble paper. Some have remarkable tan paste paper covers which, because of age and wear, reveal printing beneath the decorative pigment. In this case, we can see page 331 of the 1784 edition of the Acts of the Council and General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey printed in Trenton by state printer Isaac Collins. In an age of scarcity, paper had value even after its original use. The trade in printer’s waste paper, for example, included a number of after-market uses, such as linings for hat boxes. Here we see printer’s waste as substratum for a decorative paste paper, tan in color, patterned in a wavy manner (done by comb while paste and pigment are still wet.)

The second example keeps us still in the world of reused printer’s waste but takes us far from the rectitude of the Reverend Doctor. This is the binding on a recently acquired copy the Scholar’s Arithmetic, or, Federal Accountant, a textbook published in 1814 at Keene, N.H. by John Prentiss “proprietor of the copy right.” [(Ex) Item 547834] The book is still in its original binding as issued. In this case the decorative paper is marbled paper, whose color and pattern results from laying the paper over oil pigments floating on water. Again, wear and age allow us to see what was once hidden by blue pigment. There are blocks of print separated by wide margins, signaling this sheet to be several pages of text imposed for book printing. There are 31 lines per page with a page number centered in brackets over the middle of line one. Layout is the same on both front and back covers.

What is this text? Closely reading one portion reveals a surprise.



[service] under these good people; and after 
[supper] being showed to bed, Miss Phoebe, 
[who ob]served a kind of reluctance in me to 
[strip and go] to bed, in my shift before her, now 
[the maid] was withdrawn, came up to me, and 
[beginnin]g with unpinning my handkerchief 
[and gow]n, soon encouraged me to go on with 
[undressi]ng myself; and, still blushing at now see
[ing mys]elf naked to my shift, I hurried to get 
[under th]e bed-cloaths out of sight.  Phoebe 
[laugh'd] and was not long before she placed

Racy stuff, indeed. One library describes books with comparable decorative papers as “Bound in boards covered with a marbled sheet from a suppressed edition of John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. [Boston?, ca. 1810]” How did this happen? [More later.]

Piranesi’s Catalogo delle Opere: a practical requisite rendered in tromphe l’oeil

“Any attempt to determine the dating and sequence of the majority of Piranesi’s etched works must begin from the artist’s own Calalogo, confined to a single plate. This appears to have been first issued around 1761 when Piranesi set up his print-selling business near the top of the Spanish Steps at Palazzo Tomati, Via Sistina — an address which appears on many of his subsequent plates. In particular the Catalogo is crucial for arriving at the dating and order of the Vedute di Roma and already on the earliest known example presented to the Accademia di San Luca on his election in the spring of 1761, some fifty-nine specific titles are listed. Thence forward until his death in 1778, Piranesi issued revised states of the Catalogo which can be dated approximately by the addition of new publications. At the same time, fresh titles of the Vedute were added, individually or in groups (these were sometimes inserted in ink before being etched). So far, well over twenty-five separate states of this key work have come to light.” — John Wilton-Ely, Piranesi (London, 1978), p. 45.

Recent study of the Catalogo by Andrew Robison, Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), has identified as many as 31 known states.

Princeton owns three states, as follows:

State IV – copy bound as last leaf in Piranesi’s De Romanorvm magnificentia et architectvra / Della Magnificenza ed architettura de’Romani. (Rome, 1761), call number (Ex) NA310 .P64e. Link to digital image.

State V – held at the Princeton University Art Museum, Prints and Drawings

State XXIV – copy at call number (Ex) 2007-0052E, dating ca. 1776. Link to digital image.

Contemporary accounts: Chart of Temperance and Physiology – Number One

The Publisher’s Weekly, April 24, 1886 [No. 743], page 549 under “Literary and Trade Notes”

“The Writers’ Publishing Co., 25 University Place, N. Y., have issued a chart of temperance and physiology entitled “The Road to Ruin and How to Avoid it.” It is 22×34 in size, and paints the vice of intemperance in such horrible colors that must at once convince the reader that “abstinence is the best policy.” Due attention is also given to the economic side of the question, tables being given that show at a glance that intemperance does not pay in any sense of the word. The price, half mounted, is $1; full mounted, $1.50.”

• • •

“List of educational publications of 1885-‘86; compiled from publisher’s announcements by the United States Bureau of Education.” This list gives a total of 609 publications distributed across 40 categories. Under the heading of ‘Physiology and hygiene’:

“Temperance and Physiology – Chart No. 1, strikingly illustrated, showing the road to ruin and how to avoid it. By the “The Writers’ Publishing Co., 21 (sic) University Place, New York City. (New England Journal of Education).”

[Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1885 – ‘86 (Washington, D.C., 1887) p. 704 ]

• • •

Chart of Temperance and Physiology – Number One : The Road to Ruin and How to Avoid It. …
Published by Miss Julia Colman, Superintendent, Literature Department, National Women’s Christian Temperance Union. 72 Bible House, New York City.

Copyright 1885 by the Writers’ Publishing Company. Call number: (Ex) Broadside – Oversize – 411

Jesuit Thesis Print • Douay, 1753

Actual size: 3 ft tall x 2 ft wide

Jesuit Thesis Print • Douay, 1753.

Recently purchased for the Library’s holdings on the material culture of academic life was a Jesuit thesis print. In general, this genre of publication joined the visual and textual, markng in word and picture an important milestone in the education of a youth at a Jesuit college. Upon completion of a course of study, the student became the centerpiece of a staged show of his learning and rhetorical skills. This was done before an audience, sometimes with musical interludes. During the event, before a panel of his superiors in learning, the student elaborated on theses – topics of learned discourse. According to Louise Rice in her “Jesuit Thesis Prints and the Festive Academic Defence at the Collegio Romano,” in The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773, ed. John O’Malley et al., Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 148-69, “… the sheet was distributed to members of the audience during the defence itself; it served as a kind of program, which enabled the audience to follow the progress of the disputation, and was taken home as a record or souvenir of the event.”

As a rule, a Jesuit thesis print featured a large picture surmounting the text of the theses. (For this particular one text and image together measure 43 inches tall and 28 inches wide, being two full sheets pasted together at one edge.)

In this case the scene is the famous story of the judgement of Solomon. This story of two mothers, a disputed baby, and a cunning strategy to determine the truth was widely known and illustrated. Raphael’s rendering is in the Loggia of the Papal Palace in the Vatican. In this print, engraved by Laurent Cars in Paris after a design by Serviatus Paira, the moment depicted can be read as the instance either before or just after his decision. One mother stands before King Solomon either in supplication or abjection, while in the foreground the baby is with the other mother. Onlookers point to the center of the drama.

Discoursing on the theses was Joannes Antonius Dominicus Verhulst from Bruges at the culmination of his course in the Jesuit College Aquicinctinus in Douai. This occurred in 1753. Twenty years later the Jesuits were suppressed and this practice declined.

Verhulst is discoursing on topics in rational philosophy – before judges, in this case, presided by Pierre de Cassal, Professor of Philosophy at the College. There was a tradition of dividing rational philosophy into three parts and so it is done here in three distinct columns: Idea (science of ideas), Juridicum (laws of thought), Discursus (science of the criteria of certitude).

Customary for the Jesuit thesis print was a thematic connection between the pictorial scene and the theses. Solomon was a symbol of many meanings, of which one was that he was a sage whose determinations of truth led him to wisdom.

Title: Philosophia rationalis.
Imprint: Douai : Jacobus Franciscus Willerval, 1753.
Format: Over-all dimensions 110 x 73 cm.; made up of two equal size sheets (upper: engraving (judgement of Solomon); lower: engraved architectural tablet surrounding letterpress text.
Summary: Announcing defense of theses in rational philosophy by Joannes Antonius Domincus Verhults of Bruges, held at the Jesuit College Aquicinctinus in Douai on March 4, 1753 and presided over by Petrus de Cassal.
Call number: (Ex) Item 5324301 broadside

NB – The practice of public display of a student’s rhetorical skills continued at colleges in the New World. The archives of the University have a number of such broadsides – just text, pictures were either not allowed or not affordable or both. These are found at Mudd Library in collection number AC115, Series 5, Oversize Items, 1748-1948,
Commencement Broadsides, 1754-1764.

Beyond … is Prisonton, Deliriumton, Demonland, the Great Black Valley, …

Going back to ancient times is a pictorial genre depicting the course of human life — an illustration of a man’s progress from start to end plotted onto the length and depth of a two-dimensional plane. By convention, the beginning point is in the foreground; the end is in the distance. Such images are a single-sheet form of the “picture story,” a means of expression developed so well by Hogarth (“Rake’s Progress”) or Daumier. As Hogarth said “I treat my subjects as a dramatic writer; my picture is my stage, and men and women my players.”

One of the earliest examples of this genre is the “Tablet of Cebes,” a mural said to be in the temple of Chronos in either Athens or Thebes. It showed one’s progress from entry at the gate of Genius to the goal of reaching Happiness in the end. Here is an image from a 1694 work showing the path.

[H. L. Spieghel, Hertspieghel en andere zede-schriften (Amsterdam, 1694), folding plate following page 72.]

[Note: Detail about the picture can be found on page 8 -11 of Richard Parsons, Cebes’ Tablet (Boston, 1901) available in Google Book Search. Much more on the topic is available from Reinhart Schleier,
Tabula Cebetis; oder, “Spiegel des Menschlichen Lebens darin Tugent und untugent abgemalet ist” : Studien zur Rezeption einer antiken Bildbeschreibung im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert. Berlin, Gebr. Mann Verlag (c1973).]

Equally forceful is the depiction of the course of life in reverse — in the case of this temperance broadside, cast as a railway route from “Sippington” to “Destruction” with 30 stops in between.

[Black Valley Railroad, Great Central Fast Route, colored wood engraving issued by the National Temperance Society, New York and Boston.(1880?) Ex Item 5184327q]

Up until about 1900, a moral dialogue about the Tablet was widely used as a school text for the teaching of elementary Greek, so it is not surprising that the learned advocates of temperance in the United States adapted the genre for popular, moral instruction.

“Being the Most Valuable Selection Ever Offered to the Public” – Edinburgh, 1818

Illustrated above is an uncommon survivor of the book trade: an entrance ticket to a general sale of “several thousand volumes” in Edinburgh in 1818.

Unsold stock is the bane of any bookseller. In this case William Nivison put up for sale at the Royal Exchange Coffee House not only single copies of timely books, such as the London, three volume edition of Lewis and Clark’s Travels, but also offered titles in bulk, such as “100 (copies) Burns’s Works, 4 vol. 12mo, calf, titled, [individually priced at] £1, 6s.” He sold more than books, for the catalogue includes such items as drawing boxes at different prices (at 2s, 6s, 10s, and “complete” at £1, 10s), drawing pencils, quills, “maps published within these last 12 months,” and “Church Music Tunes.”

The 2645 volumes and other items in the 11 page catalogue are listed and priced. How did his prices compare with the market? One case in point may well tell the story of the whole. Nivison offers Hannah More’s Sacred Dramas at 3s 6d in calf. An 1815 Scottish advertisement for this same book offered it at 6s in boards. The price differential may give us a clue as to why Nivison was charging admission to the sale (price on the ticket “seven shillings and sixpence.”) He was underselling the trade, which had several consequences. On the one hand, as his prices approached his cost for stock, it meant slim profits per unit. On the other hand, there was money to be made, because profit could be had from the gate fee charged to the bargain hunters coming to his sale. Nivison realized there was value not only in the stock offered but in the event itself. He did not overlook putting a fee to a customer’s opportunity.

But, were there all that many customers? This ticket is number 1592. If it is indeed the 1,592nd ticket sold, then, he would have grossed £597. (He gave £991 as the total value of the stock on sale.) We will never know, perhaps, the final outcome of Nivison’s sale, but, it is recorded “In October 1819, [the Edinburgh Booksellers Society] … was exercised by the ‘system of underselling [that] has prevailed for some time in the Book Trade of Edinburgh.’ ” (p. 138, Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland [2007], vol. 3)

Standing within “The Temple of Time”

Invented by Emma Willard (1787-1870). Published in 1846 by A.S. Barnes & Co., 51 John Street, New York. At the chart’s lower right, the famed educator of American women states its raison d’être:

“Those laws of mind by which not only the memory is assisted, but the intellect formed, have been regarded in this invention. The attempt to understand chronology by merely committing dates to memory, is not only painful, but it is as useless as to learn latitudes and longitudes without the study of maps. As in geography, the relation of any place to all other places is what is important to know; so in chronology, the relation which any given event bears to others constitutes the only useful knowledge. Whosever wishes, can here locate himself in any point of time, and see what characters are cotemporary [sic], what before, and what to follow. This saves great labor of thought, and may suggest new ideas, even to the learned.

By putting the course of time into perspective, the disconnected parts of a vast subject are united in one, and comprehended at a glance; — the poetic idea of “the vista of departed years”[*] is made an object of sight; and when the eye is the medium, the picture will by frequent inspection, be formed within, and forever remain, wrought into the living texture of the mind. If this be done by a design whose beauty and grandeur naturally attract attention, then the teacher or parent who shall place it before his pupils and children, will find that they will insensibly become possessed of an inner “Temple” in which they may, through life, deposit, in the proper order of time, the facts of history as they shall acquire them. This, we repeat, is as important to the student of time as maps are to the student of place. Nations are here exhibited both ethnographically and chronographically. With any of the most celebrated characters of the world, we may in idea stand within the “Temple,” and look back to the past, and forward to the future.”

  • “the vista of departed years” – A line from the poem “The Flight of Time” by John Lowe, published in Edinburgh in 1845.

Front cover: Willard’s Map of Time: A Companion to the Historic Guide. By Emma Willard. New-York, [1846]. Call number: (Ex) Item 5146637q

For more particulars on the Library’s significant holdings relating to the history of charts and tables of chronology as well as timelines, see the relevant entry in the Guide to Selected Special Collections.