Early Americana Catalog, Page 2

Presented for sale by Phil Barber, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 Telephone (617) 492-4653
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The Earliest American Magazines

To the multi-faceted genius, Ben Franklin, is owed the plan of the first American magazine. English magazines, the famous Gentleman’s Magazine and the London Magazine, enjoyed wide circulation among the literate Anglo-American upper classes. Indeed the motto the founders would adopt for the new nation in 1776, “E Pluribus Unum”, which is Latin for “From many, one” is originally the motto of the Gentleman’s Magazine, and was printed on the blue cover of every issue. Examples of these titles and others may usually be found in my online British Catalogue.

Franklin was beaten to the press, so to speak, by rival printer Andrew Bradford, the first number of whose magazine, the American Magazine, or a Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies, came off the press on February 13, 1741. The first issue of Ben’s magazine, the General Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, For All the British Plantations in America, also dated January, 1741, appeared just three days later. A petty quarrel erupted between the two pioneers, though the magazines survived for only three and six issues, respectively. The British population of America was then less than a million, and although Philadelphia was the center of American life at the time, there was not enough interest to support either publication at this early date, among the tiny handful of Americans who were literate and who could afford their cost. Today both magazines are excessively rare.

The locus of American magazine publishing then shifted northward to Boston. Printers Rogers and Fowle produced in 1743 the American Magazine and Historical Chronicle, which ran monthly through 1746. Meanwhile, the Christian History, less perhaps a standard magazine than a chronicle of the “Great Awakening”, appeared in March 1743, and ran weekly for two years, the work of these same printers. The two titles enjoy the distinction of being the first successful American magazines and though quite rare are occasionally seen on the market. It has been my privilege to have found and offered to my customers examples of almost every issue of both titles, from the very few holdings of these magazines in private hands.

Andrew Bradford's nephew William, also of Philadelphia, began in 1757 the landmark American Magazine and Monthly Chronicle, the first American magazine to rival in quality the great magazines of England. Several other titles appeared in the 1750’s, and one in the 1760’s, but the next significant advance in magazine publication would be in the form of Isaiah Thomas’ splendid Royal American Magazine or Universal Repository of Instruction and Amusement, which ran for over a year at Boston, starting in 1774. It faithfully chronicled this time of incipient revolution, and was graced by cover artwork and political cartoons by Paul Revere, which are much prized by collectors today.

Meanwhile in January 1775 at Philadelphia Robert Aitken began The Pennsylvania Magazine, and employed the recently emigated patriot fireband Tom Paine to be the editor of this now extremely rare title. It featured excellent news coverage of the start of the War of Independence, and printed the Declaration of Independence in its final number.

The United States Magazine of New York was the only other magazine published during the war, and folded in 1779. The first magazine in a free and independent United States was the Boston Magazine, which ran 1783 to 1786. Other titles soon followed, the most important being the Columbian Magazine (for Columbia was one of the names being considered for the new republic), Philadelphia, 1786 - 1790, the American Museum (Philadelphia, 1787 - 1789), Isaiah Thomas’ Massachusetts Magazine (Boston, 1789 - 1796), and the New-York Magazine (1790 - 1797). Famed dictionary compiler Noah Webster briefly produced his own American Magazine at Worcester, Mass. in 1787 - the fifth magazine to use that name as its title! With these sophisticated new monthlies, the American magazine can be said to have arrived as a force in American journalism, informing and entertaining the now four and a half million Americans, and inspiring literally tens of thousands of new titles over the coming two centuries.

In Early American Books and Printing (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1935) historian John Winterich writes "eighteenth century American magazines are rare - their circulations in general were much smaller than those of newspapers ... Like the newspapers, they were fragile in format, and were quickly consumed under the rigors of a sturdy era. The fortunate survivors among them are to be found for the most part in public collections.

I am pleased to be able to here present at least a small sampling of these virtually unavailable early American imprints.


The First Successful American Magazine
E6-052. THE COLUMBIAN MAGAZINE or MONTHLY MISCELLANY, typical issue printed between 1786 and 1790. [Complete issue of 48 + 2 pages, octavo size, published at Philadelphia. Penna., by Seddon, Spotswood, Cist, and Trenchard].
A consortium of Philadelphians, composed of an artist, a printer, a bookseller, and a publisher, created this unique magazine three years after America won her freedom. Its contents are remarkably varied and attractive - its stated aim was to be "a future criterion of the opinions and characters of the age" and in this it succeeded, with contributions by era luminaries in many fields. It also broke ground in featuring fiction, in an age when fiction was not a staple of magazines. There are good news reports of doings in Philadelphia and across the infant republic, as well as from England and France and other parts of the world. Some verse and genealogical statistics also appear. I am pleased to be able to offer examples of this very elusive classic of early American publishing, the first magazine that survived in independent America for more than a year .
Condition of the issues is generally a pleasing fine, carefully extracted from an annual volume. Price, each issue, . . . 79.95
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The Greatest of the Earliest American Magazines
E6-053. THE AMERICAN MUSEUM, typical issue printed between 1787 and 1789. [Complete issue of 48 to 96 pages, octavo size, published at Philadelphia, by Carey & Stewart].
Founding editor Mathew Carey had co-founded the Columbian Magazinein 1786 but after a few months left to produce this title, which rapidly gained wide acceptance. Washington himself praised the venture, and Carey's subscription list swelled to 1,250, an unprecedented circulation for an American magazine. Carey had emigrated from Ireland just three years previous, after serving time in a British gaol for his criticisms of King George's policies in his homeland. He was thus an ardent patriot in his new land, and his magazine is rich with the contributions of like-minded men. The magazine is extremely eclectic, presenting articles of note from many sources. Also printed here are documents of the Revolutionary years, some poetry and tales, the doings of government, and excellent news reporting from over the world. Lovely example of a classic of American publishing .
Condition of the issues is nice clean fine, carefully extracted from an annual volume. Price, each issue, . . . 69.95
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The Longest-Lived 18th Century American Magazine
E6-056. THE MASSACHUSETTS MAGAZINE, OR MONTHLY MUSEUM OF KNOWLEDGE AND RATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT, typical issue printed between 1789 and 1796. [Complete issue of 68 + 2 pages, octavo magazine size, published at Boston, Mass. by Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer Andrews].
Considered the most varied and inclusive of the earliest American magazines, this handsome monthly aimed to present its readers, according to the subtitle, with the latest in "Poetry, Musick, Biography, History, Physick, Geography, Morality, Criticism, Philosophy, Mathematicks, Agriculture, Architecture, Chemistry, Novels, Tales, News, Marriages, deaths, Meteorological Observations, Etc." This it did in excellent style, guided by the great American publisher Isaiah Thomas. I have been fortunate enough to aquire a fine archive of this scarce magazine which I am able to offer at very reasonable cost.
Condition of the issues is generally quite fine, some light foxing or browning due to the quality of paper employed in the project. Price, each issue, . . . 39.95
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Edited by a Sworn Enemy of Thomas Jefferson and an Early Gay Author
E6-101. THE PORT-FOLIO, typical issue printed between 1801 and 1805. [Complete issue of 8 pages, large quarto size, published at Philadelphia, Penna., by Fry and Maxwell].
Boston-born editor Joseph Dennie (1768 - 1812) was a grandson of Bartholomew Green, early proprietor of the first American newspaper, The Boston News-Letter. Well-suited to the world of journalism, Dennie was a ferocious antagonist of President Jefferson, attacking him and vilifying the notion of republican government at every turn. Finally an outrageously defamatory article caused his indictment for sedition in 1801 - quite an irony that the great champion of the free press, Jefferson, had to resort to the hated Federalist Sedition Act of 1798 (still the law of the land) to silence a critic. In any event, and he was found "not guilty" and thereafter toned down his invective. The newspaper contains political comment and extensive fiction and poetry. Dennie is remembered today as an early gay writer, in an era when men of such preference formed "bachelors' clubs," excluding women, where they socialized away from public scrutiny. Some of this stories published here reflect the decided disdain for the society of women that exemplified this genre of writing.
Condition of the issues is fine but with considerable foxing pr waterstains, price reduced accordingly. Price, each issue, . . . 4.95
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The Publication of the Celebrated "Boston Anthologists"
E6-106. THE MONTHLY ANTHOLOGY AND BOSTON REVIEW, typical issue printed between 1805 and 1807. [Complete issue of 48 pages, octavo size, published at Boston, Mass., by Munro and Francis].
First published in 1803, the editorial staff of this noted monthly was composed of Harvard gradates who had never married. The anthologists relied on a network of close male friendships for emotional support, political identity, and personal confidence. William Shaw Smith (1778 - 1826) and Stevens Buckingham (1784 - 1812) were at the core of this social network, whose letters reveal the death of their feelings for one another. The magazine folded in 1812 but shortly re-emerged as the great North American Review; The features are eclectic and highly sophisticated, commentary on new books, plays and poetry, and reflect the standards of the authors. Not a commonly encountered title, which I have seen priced much higher elsewhere.
Condition of the issues is fine. Price, each issue, . . . 11.95
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An Early Evangelical Magazine
E6-107. THE PANOPLIST, or CHRISTIAN'S ARMORY, typical issue printed between 1807 and 1808. [Complete issue of 48 pages, octavo magazine size, published at Boston, Mass., by Lincoln & Edwards].
"Conducted by an association of friends to Evangelical truth," this appealing monthly contains accounts of contemporary Ministers and their works, the state of religion in the new nation, discussions of Scripture, and more spiritual Christian content. There are also such departments as "Literary and Philosophical Intelligence [news]", Religious Intelligence", and more. "Review of New Publications" critiques new books from an evangelical perspective. Nice early magazine of earnest faith; revival movements would sweep the nation in the coming decade in reaction to the radical "Age of Enlightenment" and its wholesale rejection of traditional values .
Condition of the issues is fine. Price, each issue, . . . 7.95
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Inspecting That Rascal Tom Jefferson
E6-109. THE WEEKLY INSPECTOR, typical issue printed between 1806 and 1807. [Complete issue of 8 pages, octavo size, published at New York, by Thomas Fessenden].
Extremely uncommon little Federalist partisan weekly, edited by the great political satirist Thomas Green Fessenden (1771 - 1837). Considered the greatest verse satirist of his time, he gained fame as the author of a virulent epic ode against Jefferson called Democracy Unveiled the year before he began this venture. Here he continues his assaults on anything that smells of the Democratic-Republicanism of the chief executive. Fascinating glimpse into era politicking, which dominates its content .
Condition of the issues is generally fine, never trimmed or bound, quite uncommon. Price, each issue, . . . 19.95
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Edited by Washington Irving
E6-162. THE ANALECTIC MAGAZINE, typical issue printed between 1813 and 1814. [Complete issue of 88 pages, octavo size, published at Philadelphia, Penna., by Moses Thomas].
For a brief period, less than 24 issues, this fine eclectic review was edited by the great American author Washington Irving (1783 -1859). He contributed a number of reviews of new books and wrote the "literary and scientific intelligence" in the news columns. He celebrated the great triumphs of the U.S. navy in action against King George's warships in articles he wrote covering the war's events and the heroes. Irving started with a salary of $125 a month, which he thought "handsome pay ... [for] an amusing occupation" but by the end of 1814 he had grown tired of the demands of active editorship of an ongoing periodical and quit, to be replaced in Feb. 1815 by Thomas Wharton. I offer complete issues dating to the months of the Irving editorship, unique mementos of the early career of one of the most celebrated authors of his century at a formative period of American letters .
Condition of the issues is fine, minor light foxing, from a bound volume. Price, each issue, . . . 29.95
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America's First Scientific Magazine
E6-251. THE AMERICAN MECHANICS' MUSEUM, typical issue printed between 1825 and 1826. [Complete issue of 16 pages, octavo size, published at New York, printed by William van Norden].
Produced by Thomas P. Jones (1774 -1848), mechanics professor of the Franklin Institute, this title is the earliest American weekly devoted entirely to technological advancement. Modeled on the London Mechanics' Magazine, it survived barely a year before merging with the Franklin Institute's newly launched Journal and moving to Philadelphia. It is an amazing digest of mechanical and scientific progress printed at the dawn of the Industrial Era in America, and is supplied with illustrations, a great rarity in era publications. Quite uncommon and a significant addition to any collection.
Condition of the issues is generally fine with some foxing. Price, each issue, . . . 24.95
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A Reprise of a Famous Name, in the 50th Anniversary Year of American Freedom
E6-258. THE BOSTON NEWS-LETTER AND CITY REGISTER, typical issue printed in 1826. [Complete issue of 16 pages, octavo size, published at Boston, Mass., by Munroe & Francis].
This uncommon weekly, which survived barely a year, reprised the name of the first American newspaper, which appeared 122 years earlier. Its content is primary miscellany of all sorts, from the doings of the Boston Board of Aldermen, to news briefs from across the nation, articles on the latest internal improvements and prominent personages of the day. As befits the title, several pieces on Boston's long history appear in each issue. The backpage is devoted to city statistics, births, deaths, marriages, ships entered and cleared the busy harbor, etc. In all a charming portrait of an America coming of age, in this year of the 50 year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Condition of the issues is fine. Price, each issue, . . . 8.95
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America's First Sports Magazine!
E6-324. THE AMERICAN TURF REGISTER AND SPORTING MAGAZINE, 1829 - 1835. [Complete issue of 56 pages, octavo size, published at Baltimore, Md. by John Skinner]
This humble monthly has the distinction of being the first sports magazine printed in America. Of it editor John S. Skinner (1788 - 1851) later reminisced "It was the first of its race ever bred in the United States. It had but one sire and no dam; when it was foaled it was not certain whether it would find food or pasture." Its content is primarily about horses and horse racing, with much on breeding blooded stock, the nation's race tracks, results of the month's races, and so on. I also note accounts of other sporting pastimes, such as fox and deer hunting, among the Virginia gentry, and the great old sport of fishing. At this period America was still rigidly class structured and the self-appointed elite, in conscious imitation of British aristocracy, embraced these sports as the only ones truly worthy of a "gentleman." Editor Skinner was also a close friend of Francis Scott Key, standing at his side during the 1814 attack on Fort McHenry, and he subsequently arranged the first printing of Key's Star-Spangled Banner. Skinner has another "first" to his credit, that of creating the first U.S. farming newspaper, in 1819, a project much esteemed by Thomas Jefferson.
Condition is fine with moderate scattered foxing. An extremely hard to find title of great journalistic significance. Price per issue. . . 19.95
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