An Exhibition of American Imprints, 1640-1742,
from the Collections of the American Antiquarian Society
William S. Reese
At the American Antiquarian Society in
THIS EXHIBITION commemorates the 350th anniversary of printing in what is now the United States, showing seventy items from the collections of the American Antiquarian Society printed in the British colonies of North America between 1640 and 1742. The preservation and recording of American imprints has been central to the mission of the Society since its founding. These books, pamphlets, and broadsides are representative not only of the preeminent holdings of the Society's library, but also demonstrate the unceasing work of the officers and members of the Society, from its founder, Isaiah Thomas, on, in acquiring and describing the production of the American press in its early period. This sustained effort, still continuing, has provided the backbone for our knowledge of American printing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Defining the first century of printing as the period between 1640 and 1742 demarcates an era in the history of the British colonial press much more accurately than the divisions historians and bibliographers have usually applied. Most have followed the theme of Lawrence Wroth in The Colonial Printer, treating the period from 1640 to 1776 as a time in which the circumstances of the press were largely static except for the gradual diffusion of printing through the colonies. Another arbitrary division has been the separation of seventeenth-century imprints as a distinct category, a division based purely on the roundness of the date. While the circumstances of the press in the United States after the Declaration of Independence are certainly distinctly different from those of the colonial era, the world of the printer of the late colonial era is also markedly changed from that of a generation earlier.
Between 1725 and 1740 the press in the British colonies underwent an evolution that clearly divides the later colonial period from the first century. In 1725 there were four places of printing in British North America, with a total of eight printing shops. Boston, with four, was the only town with a truly competitive environment. Andrew Bradford and Samuel Keimer in Philadelphia, William Bradford in New York, and Timothy Green in New London completed the roster. Four newspapers were being published, three in Boston, but even these were a new development, since only the Boston News-Letterwas in existence before 1719. Through the end of 1725, Evans records 2,722 entries.
By 1740 printing had taken off. There were fifteen printing shops operating in nine towns, with five in Boston, two each in New York and Philadelphia, and single shops in Charleston, Williamsburg, Annapolis, Germantown, New London, and Newport. Perhaps even more significant, the number of newspapers had tripled to twelve, with fiercely competitive situations in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The advent of newspapers was the most important evolution in the role of the printers. Newspapers provided printers with a new source of income that freed them from economic control and provided a forum of opinions that was increasingly difficult for the authorities to hold in check. By 1740, the five printers in Boston were each issuing their own newspapers. More than any other factor, the rise of newspapers changed the nature of printing in the British colonies at the end of the first century.
At the same time, the rate of printing of books and pamphlets accelerated so rapidly that production in the period 1725-40 was three-quarters of all the printing done since 1640. The output of the presses became more and more varied as a wider market developed for materials beyond the subsidized governmental printing of laws and broadsides and the steady diet of sermons and theological works. Some of the "firsts" at the end of this exhibition, such as the Franklin edition of Pamelaand Smith's Compleat Housewife, suggest this new diversity. Printers could begin to compete with imported books in some areas. As the colonies grew more self-sufficient and sophisticated in the three decades before independence, so did the nature of the press.
The earlier period of the colonial press in British North America is the theme of this exhibition, held at the American Antiquarian Society from October 17 through November 22, 1989, encompassing the first century of the press and the transitional period of its last fifteen years. It attempts to show a representative variety of material in terms of subject matter, imprints, physical forms, places of imprint, and printers. The works shown are not proportionately representative, in that by far the largest number of items printed in the first century were issued in Boston and were theological in nature. The books and pamphlets that often seem most appealing to modern eyes, such as cookbooks or novels, appear here as tentative first ventures, not as typical examples.
An inherent limitation on any show of early American imprints drawn from a single collection is the great rarity of much of the material. Many items printed before 1740 exist only in unique copies, and numerous others in two or three. The holdings of the American Antiquarian Society are probably the best of any institution, but it has only a fraction of the imprints for which there are extant copies. Of the 971 extant imprints through 1700, the Society has 357, or 37 percent, including some imperfect books. Of the imprints lacking from this collection, virtually all the known copies are in other institutions and have been for most of the twentieth century. Bishop Bayly's tract, translated into Algonquian (item 9), illustrates this well. The Society was given its copy in 1815, while the last of the three known copies left private hands when the George Brinley copy was bought by Yale in 1879. The Society lacks many important early imprints, but not through insufficient desire or effort.
The Society has been closely involved with the bibliography of American imprints since its inception. Two years before he founded the Society, Isaiah Thomas published The History of Printing in America(Worcester, 1810), the first attempt to record the history of the American press through the Revolutionary era. When the Society reissued Thomas' work in 1874, it included a "Catalogue of Publications in What is Now the United States, Prior to the Revolution of 1775-1776," prepared by the librarian, Samuel Foster Haven. Although entries were brief - limited to author, shortened title, and sometimes pagination - it was the first real attempt at a comprehensive imprints list, recording about 7,500 items. In the twentieth century, the Society provided assistance and aid to Charles Evans while he compiled the American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from...1639 [to 1800]from 1901 onward. After Evans died, the Society took over his project, producing the final volume (1955), the index (1959), and the short-title rearrangement into alphabetical order, edited by Clifford Shipton and James Mooney (1969).
While Evans' work will remain vital to the study of early American imprints, it was apparent that there were serious flaws. A supplement, prepared by Roger Bristol, was issued in 1970, and added 11,262 entries to the 39,162 items in Evans and Shipton-Mooney. Numerous Evans entries were based on advertisements, supposition, or ghost entries from other bibliographies, or contained other errors. It was also evident that there were many more unlisted pre1801 imprints.
In 1980, the Society inaugurated the North American Imprints Program (NAIP), which is planned to eventuate in a detailed, machine-readable union catalogue of all North American imprints through 1876. Its goal in its initial phases was to list all pre1801 imprints that could be located, beginning with the holdings of the Society and then including other libraries. This part of the project is now completed, and the final phase of the work of coordinating NAIP with the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue project is nearing the end. NAIP now provides by far the most comprehensive listing of pre1801 American imprints, as well as locations based on reports from institutions of their holdings and locations provided by other bibliographers of proven reliability like Thomas J. Holmes, the bibliographer of the Mathers. Numerous access points make it possible to sort entries by printer, location, provenance, publisher, and relevant bibliography. The completion of NAIP will open many new fields to researchers on early American imprints and students of the history of the book in America. It is a notable landmark for the anniversary that this show commemorates.
The completion of NAIP gives us a far better idea of how many early imprints have survived and in how many copies. A number of pieces missed by Evans and Bristol have been added and a number of ghosts eliminated. Fewer pre1701 works have survived (97 1) than the Evans-Bristol total of 1,182. Although Evans often accepted unreliable evidence, some entries, such as the Oath of A Freeman,are certainly correct, even if no genuine copy has yet appeared. In one notable instance, the funeral elegy for the printer John Foster, Evans' surmise was vindicated only recently, when the Society acquired the unique surviving copy in 1982 (item 24).
If NAIP now accurately records the known extant early imprints, we might ask how much more material may come to light. For the pre1701 period, only twenty items not in Evans or Bristol were added to NAIP, a little over 2 percent. Three significant caches of early imprints have appeared on the market in the last twenty years: a group of five broadsides from the Cambridge and Boston presses, 1677-82; three Massachusetts proclamations, 1696-99; and eleven broadsides and pamphlets from William Bradford's New York press in 1693. Of these nineteen pieces, eight were already known in other copies. Ten of the eleven completely new items were broadsides, the last a four-page folded sheet. The other unknown items that have emerged have generally been single sheets or ephemeral in nature. It seems likely that any further discoveries of unknown imprints from the early period will be of this sort and that an entire unknown book is not likely to be found. While copies of known early imprints continue to circulate in the marketplace, these are often traceable to some earlier private collection, where they were recognized for what they were, as opposed to freshly discovered pieces.
Since it seems likely that NAIP will not have many additions, we can only speculate on what is lost forever. Lawrence Wroth, on the basis of the Franklin and Hall Work Book for 1760-65, records that for every item listed of which a copy survives, 3.7 items have been lost. Based on this, Wroth suggests an extrapolation of almost four times as the true number of items printed before 1801. This misleading interpretation has been frequently cited. The great majority of the unlocated imprints in the Work Book consists of the most ephemeral of items, such as tickets, bills of lading, letterheads, and the like. While there is no question that such work was an important part of the job printing and income of any colonial printer, and that almost all of this vast body of printing has entirely disappeared, such ephemera are specifically excluded from Evans, NAIP (except for very early examples), and most other imprint bibliographies. The Wroth figure is often taken to mean that a great body of books and pamphlets has been lost. In fact, if the figures taken from Franklin and Hall were applied only to books, pamphlets, or broadsides with a message(as opposed to forms), the ratio would be radically different. The ratio of complete disappearance is probably higher for the very early press, but the figure George Parker Winship suggests for the Cambridge Press, of one item lost for each one known, excluding printed forms, is more likely accurate. Ultimately, for most colonial printing we can do no more than guess. What does seem certain is that very few works longer than single sheets will appear that are not presently known.
The notes for this exhibition seek to narrate the evolution of the press in the British colonies from the establishment of the Cambridge Press and the printing of the Bay Psalm Book through the great changes of the period 1725-40. I have tried to show not only individual imprints and famous books, but to select items that demonstrate something about the spread of printing, the individuals involved, the types of material finding their way into print in the colonies, the booksellers who served as publishers, questions of liberty of the press, and innovations in printing and illustration. The tool now available in NAIP opens up many potential avenues of investigation into the early period of American printing. I hope some of those will be suggested by this catalogue.
LIST OF SOURCES CITED
Adams, Randolph G. "William Hubbard's Narrative, 1677." Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America33 (1939): 2539.
Alden, John E., ed. Rhode Island Imprints, 1727-1800. New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1949.
Austin, Robert B. Early American Medical Imprints: A Guide to Works Printed in the United States, 1668-1820. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1961.
Berg, Susan S., comp. Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg Imprints. New York: Clearwater Publication Co., 1986.
Bristol, Roger P. Supplement to Charles Evans' American Bibliography. Charlottesville, Va.: Bibliographical Society of America, 1970.
DePuy, Henry F. Bibliography of the English Colonial Treaties with the American Indians. New York: Lenox Club, 1917.
Drake, Milton, comp. Almanacs of the United States. 2 vols. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1962.
Evans, Charles. American Bibliography. 14 vols. Chicago and Worcester, 1903-69.
Ford, Worthington C. Broadsides, Ballads, &c. Printed in Massachusetts, 1639-1800. Vol. 75. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. N.p., 1922.
Gould, Christopher, and Richard P. Morgan. South Carolina Imprints, 1731-1800: A Descriptive Bibliography.Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio Information Services, 1985.
Griffin, Gillett. "John Foster's Woodcut of Richard Mather." Printing and Graphic Arts7 (1959): 1-19.
Hamilton, Sinclair. Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, 1670-1870. 3vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958.
Holmes, Thomas J. Cotton Mather: A Bibliography of His Works.3 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1940.
---.Increase Mather: A Bibliography of His Works.2 vols. Cleveland: Privately printed, 1930.
---.The Minor Mathers: A List of Their Works.Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1940.
Jones, Matt B. "Notes for a Bibliography of Michael Wigglesworth's `Day of Doom' and `Meat Out of the Eater.'" Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society39 (1929): 7784.
Lowenstein, Eleanor. A Bibliography of American Cookery Books, 1742-1860. Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1972.
Miller, C. William. Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia Printing, 1728-1766: A Descriptive Bibliography.Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974
Reese, William S. "Nine Massachusetts Broadsides, 1677-99." Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 93 (1983): 197-218.
---. "Works of George Keith Printed in America." Princeton University Library Chronicle39 (1978): 98-124.
Rosenbach, A.S.W. An American Jewish Bibliography.Baltimore: American Jewish Historical Society, 1926.
Seidensticker, Oswald. The First Century of German Printing in America, 1728-1830.Philadelphia: Schafer and Kovadi, 1893.
Welch, d'Alte A. A Bibliography of American Children's Books Printed Prior to 1821. Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1972.
Winans, Robert B. A Descriptive Checklist of Book Catalogues Separately Printed in America, 1693-l800.Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1981 .
Winship, George P. The Cambridge Press, 1638-1692.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945.
Wroth, Lawrence C. A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland, 1680-1776.Baltimore: Typothetae of Baltimore, 1922.
CATALOGUE OF THE EXHIBITION
1. The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre.... Imprinted 1640. [Cambridge: Stephen Daye].
This was the first surviving work printed in the British colonies. One of eleven known copies (of 1700 printed) of what is popularly known as the "Bay Psalm Book," it is the most famous as well as the first of imprints in what is now the United States.
The first printing press to come to British America arrived in the winter of 1638/39. During 1639 an almanac and the "Oath of a Freeman" were printed, although no genuine examples of either have been found. The ministers of the small colony were eager to produce their own version of the Psalms, one that did not sacrifice accuracy of translation to regulating of meter. Richard Mather, John Eliot, and several others made translations from the original Hebrew. Thus this first product of the American press represented a distinct break from Old England, both in production and translation.
This copy was acquired by Isaiah Thomas some time before 1820.
Evans 4; Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 2134.
2. CAMBRIDGE SYNOD, 1648. A Platform of Church Discipline Gathered Out of the Word of God: And Agreed Upon by the Elders: And Messengers of the Churches Assembled in the Synod at Cambridge in New England.... Printed by S. G. [Samuel Green] at Cambridge in New England and Are to be Sold at Cambridge and Boston Anno Dom:1649.
The Cambridge Platform established the forms of church government in Massachusetts and provided the civil courts with a basis for enforcing doctrine with the provision "Heresy, [and] Venting Corrupt and pernicious opinions, are to be restrayned and punished by civil authority." Its influence as a founding document in American government remained strong, enough to justify seventeen later editions or reprintings before 1800. Its principal authorship is credited to Richard Mather. The present copy came to AAS with the Mather Library acquired by Isaiah Thomas in 1814 and is inscribed by Richard's son, Increase Mather.
Evans 25; Holmes, Minor Mathers51A;Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 11319. Acquired from Hannah Mather Crocker, 1814.
3. THOMAS SHEPHERD. MDCLVI. An Almanack for the Year of Our Lord 1656.... Cambridg[e:] Printed by Samuel Green. 1656.
Almanacs were among the earliest products of the British press in North America, and certainly the most consistently produced items for popular usage. An almanac may have been printed as early as 1639, although the earliest to survive is Samuel Danforth's for 1646. This is the earliest almanac in the AAS collections, which are estimated to hold 90 percent of all American almanacs issued before 1800. It is one of three copies known, and bears the contemporary ownership inscription of the "Rev. Mr. Flynt," identified as the Reverend Josiah Flint of Dorchester.
Evans 43; Winship, Cambridge Press, p. 80.
4. JOHN NORTON. The Heart of N-England Rent at the Blasphemies of the Present Generation. Or a Brief Tractate Concerning the Doctrine of the Quakers. Printed by Samuel Green, at Cambridg[e] in New-England. 1659.
One of the first serious challenges to congregational authority in Massachusetts came from Quakers who began to proselytize openly in New England around 1656. The harshest possible punishments were meted out to them, and several were executed. The General Court found the problem so troublesome that it appointed John Norton to write a treatise attacking the doctrines of the Quakers, resulting in this tract. Norton ends by reminding his readers, "It concerneth N.E. alwayes to remember, that Originally they are a Plantation Religious, not a Plantation of Trade."
Of nine located copies, three belonged at one time to the collector George Brinley. The present copy passed from Brinley to Levi Z. Leiter, then to Matt B. Jones, both noted collectors. After Jones' death it was sold by Goodspeed's Book Store to Stephen W. Phillips, who gave it to AAS.
Evans 56; Winship, Cambridge Press, p. 179. Gift of Stephen W. Phillips, 1941 .
5. MASSACHUSETTS (COLONY). LAWS. The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes Concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusets, Collected Out of the Records of the General Court, for the Several Years Wherin They Were Made and Established. Cambridge, Printed [by Samuel Green] According to Order of the General Court. 1660.
The first book of the collected laws of Massachusetts published in America was issued in 1648 and now exists only in a unique copy at the Huntington Library.
This is the second collected laws, compiled by Daniel Denison, Thomas Clark, and Edward Rawson. This copy, in a binding by John Ratcliff, belonged to Rawson. Bound in are six later session laws, keeping the volume current through 1668. A new edition was not thought necessary until 1672, when the Court granted the first copyright given in the colonies to the merchant and bookseller John Usher, allowing him to publish and sell that edition exclusively.
The laws are opened to the section on heresy, where a fine of five pounds is imposed for the importing of any book concerning the "damnable opinions" of Quakers.
Evans 60; Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 124-25. Gift of William Stedman, Esq., 1814.
6. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New. Translated into the Indian Language, and Ordered to be Printed by the Commissioners of the United Colonies in New England.... Cambridge: Printed by Samuel Greenand Marmaduke Johnson. 1663.
The translation of the Bible into the Algonquian language was the largest project undertaken on an American press until well into the eighteenth century, only rivaled by the second edition produced in 1680-85. While the primary impetus for the project came from its tireless promoter and translator, John Eliot, the financing of the project was entirely provided from London by the Corporation of the New England Company. Through their money, the printer Marmaduke Johnson and much type and equipment were sent to America to accomplish the task.
The Eliot Bible was the first American imprint to find great favor with book collectors and was eagerly sought by leading American collectors in the nineteenth century. Until eclipsed by the Gutenberg Bible at the Brinley sale in 1881, successive copies held the record for the highest price paid for a book in America. The present copy came to AAS from Isaiah Thomas.
Evans 72; Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 208-44.
7. BOSTON SYNOD, 1662. Propositions Concerning the Subject of Baptism and Consociation of Churches, Collected and Confirmed Out of the Word of God, by a Synod of Elders and Messengers of the Churches in Massachusetts-Colony in New-England.Cambridge: Printed by S.G. for Hezekiah Usher at Boston in New-England. 1662.
The issue of infant baptism and church membership was a deeply divisive problem for early Massachusetts. Discussion of the question provoked the first real exchange of views through the medium of the printed word in British America. This statement of the Boston Synod was largely written by Jonathan Mitchel, and it put forth the compromise known as the "Half-Way Covenant." Increase Mather and John Davenport objected to the decision of the Synod to ease the traditional, rigorous requirements and stated their intention to print their arguments. They were immediately forestalled from doing so by an order of the General Court, which imposed the first official restriction on freedom of the press in Massachusetts by requiring manuscripts to be approved by licensers before publication; the first two licensers were Mitchel and Daniel Gookin. This restriction was lifted eight months later and was followed by Davenport and Mather's Another Essay for the Investigation of the Truth(Cambridge, 1663) and pamphlets by Mitchel, Richard Mather, Charles Chauncy, Thomas Shepard, and John Allin.
Evans 68; Winship, Cambridge Press,pp. 245-60.
8. JOHN COTTON. A Discourse about Civil Government in a New Plantation Whose Design Is Religion.... Cambridge: Printed by Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson. 1663.
One of the works published in the dispute over the Half-Way Covenant was this essay by John Cotton, prepared for the press by John Davenport (but not written by him, as Cotton Mather and Evans incorrectly assert). By publishing it, Davenport was able to use the words of one of the founding ministers of the Bay Colony to support his arguments. It is often called the first American treatise on civil government. In it, Cotton explains his views on the interconnected nature of church and civil government. He states that "the most considerable part of free planters" should "have liberty to cast themselves into that model or form of Commonwealth which shall appear to be best for them."
Evans 79; Winship, Cambridge Press, p. 258.
9. LEWIS BAYLY. Manitowompae Pomantamoonk:. Cambridge: Printed [by Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson] inthe Year 1665.
Bishop Bayly's Practice of Piety was one of the most widely read devotional books in English, passing through many editions. There are three known copies of this translation by John Eliot, one of the works he issued for the instruction of the Indians of Massachusetts. AAS was given the present copy by the Reverend Isaac Smith of Boston in 1815; the last copy to change hands was the Brinley copy, bought by Yale at his auction in 1879.
Evans 95; Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 273-75. Gift of Rev. Isaac Smith, 1815.
10. MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH. The Day of Doom. [Cambridge: Printed by Samuel Green, 1666.]
Wigglesworth's poem, graphically describing the Day of Judgment and the eternal agony of unrepentant sinners, is a strictly Calvinist view of mankind's ultimate fate. This is the first poetical work published in the British colonies. No copy of the first edition of 1662 is known, and only imperfect copies survive of this second edition. [This is one of two incomplete copies owned by AAS.] Two London editions followed; the first American edition of which complete copies survive is the Boston 1701 edition. Copies of this book, as well as early editions of the same author's Meat Out of the Eater,seem to have literally been read to pieces.
Evans 112; Winship, Cambridge Press, pp. 252-53; Jones, pp. 77-84. Gift of Matt B. Jones, 1929.
11. [THOMAS VINCENT. ] God's Terrible Voice in the City of London Wherein You Have the Narration of the Two late Dreadful Judgements of Plague and Fire.. Cambridge: Printed by Marmaduke Johnson. 1668.
This narration of the course on the plague in London in 1665, accompanied by an account of the Great Fire of 1666, is credited with being the first American medical work. The text had already gone through several editions from London booksellers. Harvard University has another issue of this tract, with slightly differing title and text, and the imprint: "Cambridge. Printed by Samuel Green. 1667." Since Green complained to the General Court in the fall of 1667, asking that "one may not wrong another by printing another copie," it seems likely that the issue AAS owns was pirated by the feckless Marmaduke Johnson.
Evans 132; Austin 1977; Winship, Cambridge Press,pp. 282-83.
12. NATHANIEL MORTON. New-Englands Memoriall: Or, a Brief Relation of the Most Memorable and Remarkable Passages of the Providence of God, Manifested to the Planters of New-England in America. Cambridge: Printed by S.G. and M.J. [Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson] for John Usher of Boston.1669.
The first historical work published in the British colonies, this book was written by the nephew of Gov. William Bradford and was largely based upon records and narratives left to Morton by Bradford. Plymouth donated twenty-five pounds toward payment for printing the book, for the sake of preserving the "Records and Memorials of Remarkable Providences." This copy was bound by John Ratcliff for John Deane, and passed through the collections of Herman LeRoy Edgar and Michael Papantonio before coming to AAS.
Evans 144; Winship, Cambridge Press,pp. 289-91. Gift of Frank L. Harrington, 1979.
13. HENAGE FINCH, EARL OF WINCHILSEA. A True and Exact Relation of the Late Prodigious Earthquake & Eruption of Mount Aetna...As It Came in aLetter Written to His Majesty from Naples. Cambridge: printed by S.G. and M.J. 1669.
This newsletter, describing the eruption of Mount Aetna as viewed by the British ambassador to Constantinople, is the first instance of an outright news publication unaccompanied by religious moralizing issued in British North America. It reprints the London edition of the same year; similar reprints appeared in Dublin and Edinburgh. The AAS copy is the only surviving example of the American printing. It suggests the first glimmerings of a commercial, secular press.
Evans 139; Winship, Cambridge Press, p.294.
14. INCREASE MATHER. The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather, Teacher of the Church in Dorchester in New-England. Cambridge: Printed by S.G. and M.J., 1670.
This account of Richard Mather, who died in Boston in 1669, was the third work published by his son Increase and one of the first biographical works published in the British colonies.
Evans 150; Holmes, Increase Mather 71-A.
15. [JOHN FOSTER.] Mr. Richard Mather. [Woodcut broadside, first issued circa 1670, the present issue probably circa1730.]
John Foster's woodcut of Richard Mather was probably made in 1669 or 1670 shortly after Mather's death. It is the first American woodcut and the first American portrait. Foster knew Mather well. He was baptized by Mather, grew up attending his church in Dorchester, and was a member of the congregation at the time the AAS copy, seem to be later impressions, made from a woodcut with some alterations. This copy was bequeathed to AAS by William Bentley in 1819.
Hamilton 1; Griffin, pp. 1-19.
16. SAMUEL DANFORTH. A Brief Recognition of New-Englands Errand into the Wilderness.... Cambridge: Printed by S.G. and M.J., 1671.
The tradition of election sermons, preached at the invitation of the General Court when it met for the first time in a year to choose the magistrates, was begun in 1634. The first to appear in print was John Higginson's of 1663, and thereafter the Election Sermon was usually published, although sometimes years after its delivery. The title of Danforth's sermon was adopted in this century by the historian Perry Miller as a book title and a metaphor for the Puritan venture to New England.
Evans 160; Winship, Cambridge Press,pp. 300-6. From the library of John W. Farwell, presented by his estate, 1942-43.
17. INCREASE MATHER. Wo to Drunkards. Two Sermons Testifying Against the Sin of Drunkenness.... Cambridge: Printed by Marmaduke Johnson.1673. And Sold by Edmund Ranger Bookbinder in Boston.
These two sermons inveighing against drunkenness are the first of many sermons of Increase Mather to be published. The AAS copy, bought at the George Brinley sale in 1879, has a presentation inscription from the author on the last leaf: "For Mr. Nath. Mather in Dublin." Nathaniel Mather has noted the date of receipt, "4th 18. 74," on the title page. The sidenotes to the printed text contain both Greek and Hebrew types. The only time either appear in works with the imprint of Marmaduke Johnson alone. He evidently did not have these fonts in the types brought over to print the Indian Bible and must have borrowed them from the stocks of Samuel Green's printing shop. Edmund Ranger, a Boston bookbinder, also acted as a bookseller. His name appears in the imprint of four works published between 1672 and 1679.
Evans 179; Holmes, Increase Mather 175A;Winship, Cambridge Press, p. 316.
18. JOHN FOSTER. An Almanack of Coelestial Motions for the Year of the Christian Aera 1675. Cambridge: Printed by Samuel Green. 1675.
This almanac, the last printed by the Cambridge Press, was prepared by John Foster of the Harvard Class of 1667, a multitalented individual who was responsible for a number of "firsts" in the printing history of British North America. In this almanac Foster included a short essay on various theories of the universe, as well as an illustration, from a woodcut he made of a Copernican universe. This is one of the first woodcuts and earliest scientific illustrations published in North America. In 1675 Foster took charge of the press in Boston, and the next year he published his own almanac there.
19. WILLIAM HUBBARD. A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from the First Planting Thereof in the Year 1607 to This Present Year 1677.... Boston. Printed by John Foster, in the year 1677.
Hubbard's book is devoted primarily to an account of the events of King Philip's War in 1675-76. Published in Boston by John Foster, Hubbard's Narrativeisone of the best known early American imprints, and one of the first to be reprinted in London. Randolph Adams was able to locate almost fifty copies of the Boston edition, making it, along with the second edition of the Eliot Bible, the most widespread survival of a seventeenth-century American imprint. The woodcut map of New England, created by John Foster, is the first map printed in the British colonies.
Evans 231; Adams, pp. 25-39. From the library of John W. Farwell, presented by his estate, 1942-43.
20. MASSACHUSETTS (COLONY). TREASURY DEPARTMENT. To the Constables and Select Men of [blank]. According to an Order of the General Court Held at Boston, May 23. 1677. You Are in His Majestyes Name Required to Collect of the Several Inhabitants Ratable.... [Boston?: Printed by John Foster?, 1677?]
This is the earliest example in the collections of AAS of a printed blank form or ephemeral job-printing. Forms of this sort must have been produced by all of the early printers in large numbers but have virtually disappeared today. This form is filled out to the town of Topsfield, and signed by John Hull as treasurer.
21. THOMAS THACHER. A Brief Rule to Guide the Common People of New-England: How to Order Themselves and Theirs in the Small Pocks, or Measles. Boston. Printed and sold by John Foster, 1677 [i.e., 1678].
Thomas Thacher was the first minister of Old South Church, and one of the licensers of the press in Boston, at the time he wrote this broadside. Published by John Foster during the Boston smallpox epidemic of 167778, it offers the standard medical advice of the day on how to treat the disease. This is the second known copy of the broadside, missing the top four lines of text; the other, complete copy is in the Massachusetts Historical Society. It was acquired by AAS in 1981, along with four other broadsides from the presses of Samuel Green and John Foster that were preserved by being tipped into a large folio.
Evans 242; Ford 72; Reese, "Nine Massachusetts Broadsides, 1667-99." Purchase, 1981.
22. [ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET.] Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, Full of Delight By a Gentlewoman in New-England. Boston. Printed by John Foster, 1678.
Anne Bradstreet was the first woman poet to be published in the American colonies and the only author in the colonies to publish a substantial collection of poems in the seventeenth century. First issued in London in 1650 as The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America,the collection is posthumously republished here with the addition of some further poems. Her work varies from formal verses such as "The Four Seasons of the Year," to more personal poems of domestic life. The book is opened to her touching memorial verses on her deceased grandchildren.
23. JOHN BUNYAN. The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to come.... Boston in New England: Printed by Samuel Green upon Assignment from Samuel Sewall: and Are toBe Sold by John Usher of Boston.1681.
Pilgrim's Progress was first published in London in 1678 and was an immediate best seller, with nine editions by 1681. The tremendous demand for the book is attested to by this American edition, since the expense of printing so long a text in the colonies would have been higher than the normal cost of importing, unless Usher expected that high demand would swiftly recoup his cost. This is the first American reprint of a British work of literature, and a book that must have been very widely read in New England.
24. THOMAS TILESTONE. A Funeral Elegy Dedicated to the Memory of His Worthy Friend, the Learned & Religious Mr. John Foster; Who Deceased in Dorchester, the 9th. of September. 1681. [Cambridge: Samuel Green, 1681.]
The existence of this broadside was surmised by bibliographers for over a century before a copy was discovered and sold to AAS with a group of seventeenth-century imprints in 1981 (see Thacher). It eulogizes the printer, mathematician, astronomer, and woodcutter John Foster, who died of consumption in the fall of 1681. Funeral broadsides such as this were popular in seventeenth and eighteenth-century New England. They were often in verse and frequently contained anagrams or acrostics based on the name of the departed. Tilestone's anagram for Foster, "I shone forth," was termed by Harold Jantz "one of the most appropriate of the century."
Samuel Green advertised copies of this broadside for sale on the last page of his almanac for 1682. A manuscript copy of the actual text was published in 1857, and the bibliographer Samuel A. Green surmised that it was based on a printed text. On this basis, Charles Evans assigned it a number in his American Bibliography,and both bibliographers were proved correct when this unique copy appeared.
Evans 308; Ford 83; Reese, "Nine Massachusetts Broadsides, 1677-99." Gift of Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber, 1981.
25. INCREASE MATHER. Kometographia. Or a Discourse Concerning Comets; Wherein the Nature of Blazing Stars is Enquired Into.... Boston in New-England: Printed by S.G. for S.S. [Samuel Green, Jr., for Samuel Sewall]. And Sold by J. Browning at the Corner of the Prison Lane Next to the Town-House.1683.
Mather's treatise on comets is quasi-scientific, in that he gathered a considerable amount of data about comets and understood that some had cyclical reoccurrences. However, he ultimately concludes that they are signs from God, as the sermon that is usually found bound with this work, Heaven's Alarm to the World, makes clear. The book is open to the passage describing John Foster's observations on the comet of 1680, suggesting it was a forecast of the printer's death, "it being mentioned amongst evil Omens, that the cunning Artificer shall be taken away."
Evans 352; Holmes, Increase Mather 67A.
26. INCREASE MATHER. An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences: Wherein, an Account Is Given of Many Remarkable and Very Memorable Events, Which Have Happened in This Last Age; Especially in New-England. Printed at Boston in New England [by Samuel Green, Jr.], and Are to Be Sold by George Calvert at the Sign of the Half-Moon in Pauls Church-Yard, London. 1684.
This work collects narratives of extraordinary happenings in New England, including shipwrecks, storms at sea, lightning, natural phenomena, demons, and witchcraft. Collected and partially written by Increase Mather, it is, in fact, the work of several hands, among them John Davenport's. Mather found a manuscript in Davenport's library after his death in 1670 and decided to publish it with a preface. Ultimately, an appeal was sent out to ministers in New England to contribute material, Mather added numerous sections, and the book was finally published in 1684.
Illustrious Providenceshas often been decried for its credulous tales of witchcraft, but the work is far more than that. In form, it is a book of exemplary or illustrative stories, a kind of collection common from the Middle Ages and similar to such contemporary works as Samuel Clark's Mirrour of Looking Glasse Both for Saints and Sinners. What sets Mather's work apart was the New England locale of the stories, and his striving throughout to correctly record natural phenomena peculiar to the area. Mather sincerely hoped to record the "Natural History of New England," and attempted to follow "the rules and method described by that Learned and excellent person Robert Boyle, Esq." The work should be given credit as one of the first scientific writings of New England.
The publishing history of Illustrious Providencesdemonstrates an interesting countercurrent in the trans-Atlantic book market. It originally appeared with the imprint "Boston in New-England Printed by Samuel Green for Joseph Browning, And are to be sold at his shop at the corner of the Prison Lane. 1684." There is a variant title of this Boston issue, reset, with a slightly varied imprint. Both of these versions printed for Browning have titles integral with the A signature. A part of the edition was then sold to George Calvert in London, who created cancel titles, as in the present copy. After the death of Calvert, the printer Thomas Parkhurst took over the stock and issued his own cancel titles, dated 1687. In every case the body of the text is the original Boston printing.
Evans 373; Holmes, Increase Mather 52C.
27. COTTON MATHER. Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. A Faithful Account of the Many Wonderful and Surprising Things, That Have Befallen Several Bewitched and Possessed Persons in New-England.... Printed at Boston in N. England by R[ichard] P[ierce], 1689. Sold by Joseph Brunning, at His Shop at the Corner of Prison Lane Next the Exchange.
This is Mather's famous account of his observations of the children of John Goodwin, a mason of Boston, who appeared to be possessed with demons through witchcraft in the summer of 1688. Much of the narrative describes the antics of Goodwin's daughter Martha, whom Mather brought to live at his home for some months to observe her behavior. The postscript is Mather's opening blast at the Quaker George Keith, whose preaching in New England had raised Mather's ire.
Mather's account was of considerable interest in England, and was reprinted in London by Thomas Parkhurst (who had taken over distribution of Increase Mather's Illustrious Providencesas well and was later to publish the Magnalia Christi Americana)in 1691 and later in Edinburgh.
Evans 486; Holmes, Cotton Mather 228A.
28. The Present State of the New-English Affairs. This is Published to Prevent False Reports. Boston. Printed and Sold by Samuel Green, 1689.
James II had revoked the charter of Massachusetts Bay and merged the northern British colonies into the Dominion of New England under the detested Gov. Edmund Andros. The governor was ousted by the rebellious citizens in 1689, at the same time that William and Mary overthrew James. Increase Mather went to London as agent for Massachusetts and succeeded in securing a new charter for the colony. This newsletter reports on the progress of Mather's mission.
Although not a true newspaper, this newssheet served the same function of conveying immediate, important foreign news. It is one of two surviving copies and was given to AAS by I.N. Phelps Stokes in 1930.
Evans 492; Ford 144; Holmes, Increase Mather 107A. Gift of I.N. Phelps Stokes, 1930.
29. EZECHIEL CARRE. Echantillon De la Doctrine que les Jesuites Ensegnent aus Sauvages du Nouveau Monde.... Imprime a Baston par Samuel Green. 1690.
Carre was the minister of the French Church in Boston. In this tract, represented as a "specimen" of Jesuit doctrine, Carre attacks the form and substance of their lessons to Indians. It was widely believed that the Jesuit missionaries in New France encouraged the Indians, through their teachings, to attack the British colonies.
This is the first work in French to be published in the British colonies. The present copy came to AAS from Isaiah Thomas.
30. GEORGE KEITH. A Refutation of Three Opposers of Truth, By Plain Evidence of the Holy Scripture.... Philadelphia. Printed and Sold by William Bradford, Anno1690.
This is the earliest Philadelphia imprint in the collections of AAS; William Bradford began printing there in 1685, making it the fourth location of printing in the British colonies. The fiery Scots Quaker George Keith here assaults Pardon Tillinghast, Benjamin Keach, and Cotton Mather. When Keith visited New England in 1688, he was given a lesson in the power of the press by Mather and other ministers whom Keith challenged to debate. The ministers replied that they had "neither list nor leisure to attend his Motions" and suggested that "if he would have a Public Audience, let him print," knowing that no Massachusetts press would publish him. Back in Philadelphia, however, Keith took their advice.
There are only two known copies of this tract; the present one came to AAS with the Mather Library in 1814. It belonged to Cotton Mather, and he sums up his view of it with his inscription on the title: "Had my Adversary Written a Book, surely I would take it upon my Shoulder & bind it as a Crown to mee. Job [xxxi], 35-36."
31. MASSACHUSETTS (COLONY). GOVERNOR. By the Governour and Council Whereas Some Have Lately Presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entituled, Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 27th. 1690. Without the Least Privity or Countenance of Authority. The Governour and Council...Order That the Same Be Suppressed and Called in.... [Boston: Printed by Bartholomew Green, 1690.]
The first attempt at an American newspaper was immediately crushed by the government of Massachusetts. The printer Richard Pierce of Boston, working for Benjamin Harris, published the first number of their proposed paper, Publick Occurrences both Forreign and Domestickwithout obtaining permission (which would probably not have been granted in any case). Only a copy in the Public Record Office in London survives of the paper. AAS and the Massachusetts Historical Society hold the only extant copies of the order suppressing it.
Evans 533; Ford 169.
32. JAMES SCOTT, DUKE OF MONMOUTH. An Abridgement of the English Military Discipline, Compiled by the Late Duke of Monmouth. Printed by Especial Command, for the Use of Their Majesties Forces....Printed at London, by their Majesties printers;reprinted at Boston by Samuel Green, and sold by Sam. Phillips at the West End of the Exchange. 1690.
This is the first military manual printed in the British colonies, one of two known copies. Except for the title page of this edition, there seems to be no reason other than glorification of the Duke of Monmouth after the disposal of James II to credit him with authorship. It was first published in London in 1676, and six editions appeared there, as well as one in Dublin, by 1686.
Evans 508. Purchase, 1912.
33. [GEORGE KEITH.] New-England's Spirit of Persecution Transmitted to Pennsilvania; and the Pretended Quaker Found Persecuting the True Christian-Quaker, in The Tryal of Peter Boss, George Keith, Thomas Budd, and William Bradford.[Philadelphia? Or New York?: William Bradford.] Printed in theYear 1693.
In the spring of 1692 George Keith became embroiled with the Quaker oligarchy of Philadelphia over questions of doctrine. The printer William Bradford took his side, and together the two launched a series of vituperative attacks in pamphlet form on their opponents. The result was that Keith and Bradford, with several others, were arrested and tried for sedition and for publishing a work without a date or imprint. Theirs was the first trial involving freedom of the press in the British colonies. Bradford and Keith were freed when the evidence against them, Bradford's set type, was dropped by a member of the jury.
Keith and Bradford maintain in this publication that much of Bradford's printing equipment was withheld from him after his release, preventing his printing until Governor Fletcher of New York arrived in Philadelphia and hired him as New York's printer. For this reason, it was generally believed by earlier bibliographers that this pamphlet was printed in New York. An examination of internal evidence in the Keith-Bradford pamphlets reveals that the pair were less than candid about their activities. In fact, several of the most vitriolic productions of Keith were printed in Philadelphia after the trial. In this light it seems quite possible that this pamphlet, also, was printed in Philadelphia, although the riddle is ultimately unsolvable.
Evans 642; Reese, "Works of George Keith Printed in America."
34. GEORGE KEITH. Truth Advanced in the Correction of Many Gross & Hurtful Errors.... [New York: William Bradford.] Printed in the Year 1694.
Governor Fletcher of New York arrived in Philadelphia on April 26, 1693, and the following day hired William Bradford as the printer to the colony of New York. The previous week a bill had been passed appropriating forty pounds a year for the support of a printer there. Bradford moved immediately and began printing in New York the following month. This book, the final and complete statement of Keith's doctrines, is the first book printed in New York. By the time Bradford issued it, Keith had returned to Europe, and when he returned to New York in 1702, it was as an Anglican.
Evans 691; Reese, "Works of George Keith Printed in America." From the Collection of Charles Wheeler.
35. BENJAMIN KEACH. Instructions for Children: Or, the Child s & Youth's Delight, Teaching an Easie Way to Spell & Read True English.... Printed and Sold by Will. Bradford at the Bible in New-York. 1695.
For a long timethe author of this very early American children's book, Benjamin Keach, was presumed to be the author of The Protestant Tutor(printed first in London, reprinted in Boston), now credited to Benjamin Harris, and it was for that tract that George Keith attacked him Refutation to Three Opposers of Truth.There is no question about his authorship ofthe present work, and evidently William Bradford felt no compunctions about printing a piece written by Keith's old opponent. This battered volume seems to be the only surviving copy.
Bristol B160. Exchange, 1940.
36. BOSTON SYNOD. A Confession of Faith Owned and Consented to by the Elders and Messengers of the Churches Assembled at Boston in New England.... [title in Algonquian]: Wunnamptamoe Sampooaonk Wussampoowontamun Nashpe Moenwehkomunganash ut New-England.... Boston: Reprinted by Bartholomew Green, and John Allen. 1699.
This volume is printed in Algonquian and English on facing pages. The English text was first printed in 1680, while the Indian dialect appears here for the first time, translated by Grindall Rawson. It is evidence of the continued effort to provide doctrinal works in Indian languages in New England.
37. COTTON MATHER. La Fe del Christiano.... Boston. [Printed by B. Green and J. Allen,] 1699.
In order to communicate with the inhabitants of the Spanish West Indies, Mather set himself to learn Spanish in 1698. He wrote the two treatises contained in this book to be used in missionary work in the Caribbean. This is the first British-American imprint in Spanish.
Evans 876; Holmes, Cotton Mather132.
38. Gospel Order Revived, Being an Answer to a Book Lately Set Forth by the Reverend Mr. Increase Mather...Entituled, the Order of the Gospel, &c....Printed in the Year1700. [New York: William Bradford.]
This book is believed to have been written by Benjamin Colman and Thomas Brattle, as an attack on the doctrines set forth by Increase Mather in his The Order of the Gospel(Boston, 1700). The authors claimed that they were forced to go to New York to publish their work, because the influence of the Mathers over the press in Boston made it impossible to find a printer. They published the following notice opposite the title page in Gospel Order Revived:"Advertisement. The Reader is desired to take Notice, that the Press in Boston is somuch under the aw of the Reverend Author, whom we answer, and his Friends that we could not obtain of the Printer there to print the following Sheets, which is the only true Reason why we have sent to Copy so far for its Impression."
The AAS copy, originally part of the Mather Library, bears the inscription "false" in the hand of Increase Mather, next to this charge.
39. BARTHOLOMEW GREEN. The Printers Advertisement. Whereas There is Prefixed Unto a Late Pamphlet.... [Boston: Bartholomew Green, 1701.]
In this pamphlet Green refutes the charge made in Gospel Order Revivedthat the production of his press was dominated by the Mathers. He states the case for his independence, following it with depositions from those unfriendly to Increase Mather and himself in the discussion. The printer claimed he would have been willing to print the work if the authors would acknowledge their role on the title page or obtain approval to print from the lieutenant governor. Green's testimony suggests he was more fearful of repercussions from civil authority for printing an anonymous tract than of displeasing the Mathers. However, in practical terms, the Mathers' displeasure may well have meant a substantial loss of business for Green.
40. [THOMAS WHITE.] A Little Book for Little Children, Wherein Are Set Down Several Directions for Little Children.... Boston, in N.E. Reprinted, by T. Green, for Nicholas Buttolph, at the Corner of Gutteridges Coffee-House. [1702.]
This is the second earliest American children's book containing religious narratives, the first being Janeway's A Token for Children,issued in 1700. Both works are made up of narratives of pious youths, in this case describing some of the more unpleasant martyrdoms, devoutly met, from Foxe's Book of Martyrs. There is also a variety of advice on behavior, including "What Books Children Are to Read."
The only extant British edition, from which this is reprinted, is the London, 1702, twelfth edition; there is an advertisement for one as early as 1674. This particular copy belonged to Mather Byles, Jr.
Evans 1056; Welch 1428. Gift of Charles L. Nichols, 1927.
41. MASSACHUSETTS (COLONY). GOVERNOR. Province of the Massachusetts-Bay. By His Excellency, Joseph Dudley Esq....A Declaration against the Pennicooke and Eastern Indians. Boston:Printed by Bartholomew Green and John Allen, Printers to His Excellency the Governor and Council, 1703.
This broadside is typical of the format and appearance of governmental proclamations of the early eighteenth century, and demonstrates the continued concern of the British colonies with the Indians. Here Governor Dudley declares several Maine tribes enemies of Massachusetts and authorizes acts of hostility against them, since they have "treacherously Combined with her Majesties Enemies the French."
Evans 1106; Ford 262.
42. [FRANCIS MAKEMIE.] A Narrative Of a New and Unusual American Imprisonment of Two Presbyterian Ministers: And Prosecution of Mr. Francis Makemie, One of Them, for Preaching One Sermon at the City of New-York.... Printed for the Publisher.[New York: William Bradford.] Printed for the Publisher. 1707.
Makemie preached a sermon without a license in a private home in New York, after Governor Cornbury refused to allow him to preach in the Dutch Church. For this, he was jailed for two months and made to pay heavy costs. However, Makemie published his sermon, A Good Conversation,in Boston, and this account of his persecution in New York. Cornbury had made himself unpopular for various actions, including his conduct towards Makemie, and it is possible that this tract, issued without an imprint, hastened his way out of office. It was reprinted in London in 1708, and in December of that year Cornbury was recalled. Despite his problems in Philadelphia fourteen years earlier, William Bradford evidently still retained a taste for tangling with the authorities.
43. JOHN WILLIAMS. The Redeemed Captive, Returning to Zion. A Faithful History of Remarkable Occurrences, in the Captivity and the Deliverance of Mr. John Williams; Minister of the Gospel, in Deerfield.... Boston in N.E. Printed by B. Green, for Samuel Phillips, at the Brick Shop.1707.
Williams was captured in the bloody attack on Deerfield by Indians in 1703 and taken as a prisoner to Canada. His wife and two children were murdered en route, and he was held by the French near Quebec until he was exchanged. He returned to Boston in late 1706, and his narrative was published soon afterward. With the Mary Rowlandson narrative of 1682, this is the most famous of New England Indian captivity narratives. It has the printed book label of Jacob Cushing, dated 1746.
Evans 1340. Gift of F.C. Deering, 1933.
44. [ANDREW AND WILLIAM BRADFORD.] The Young Man's Companion In Four Parts...The Second Edition Corrected & Enlarged.... Printed and Sold by William and Andrew Bradford at theBible in New-York,1710.
The New York printer William Bradford and his son Andrew compiled t