Friday, 14 August 2015

Growing Collection of Antiquarian Books

My library of antiquarian books has been increasing exponentially in the past few years. I have been collecting a lot of books by Jonathan Edwards in order to study them for my writing project entitled, Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture.  I am particularly excited about a first edition of The Life of David Brainerd (1749) that will soon arrive in the mail from an antiquarian dealer. I have found an enormous amount of information on the publication of this particular edition, and can't wait to talk about some of the more interesting aspects of its printing in my upcoming talk at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School at 1:30pm on October 13.

The picture above is an image of some of the books by Edwards that I have purchased, assembled randomly on a nearby bookshelf--from left to right: A History of the Work of Redemption (Boston: Edward Draper and John Folsom, 1782), A History of the Work of Redemption (Edinburgh: William Gray, 1774), A History of the Work of Redemption (Worcester, MA: Isaiah Thomas, 1792), Practical Sermons (Edinburgh: Margaret Gray, 1788), Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (Boston: Samuel Kneeland and Timothy Green, 1746), Miscellaneous Observations on Important Subjects (Edinburgh: Margaret Gray, 1793), Remarks on Important Theological Controversies (Edinburgh: James Galbraith and Archibald Constable, 1796), The Life of Jonathan Edwards (Northampton: S. and E. Butler, 1804), A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God... To Which is Added, True Grace, Distinguished from the Experience of Devils  (Elizabethtown: Shepard Kollock, 1791), Twenty Sermons on Various Subjects (Edinburgh: Margaret Gray, 1789), Freedom of the Will (Wilmington: James Adams, 1790), The Life of David Brainerd (Edinburgh: William Gray, 1765), Joseph Bellamy's True Religion Delineated (Boston: Samuel Kneeland, 1750), Original Sin (Boston: Samuel Kneeland, 1758), A History of the Work of Redemption (New York: Printed by Thomas and James Swords for the Editor [Cornelius Davis], 1793), and Samuel Hopkins's two-volume System of Doctrines (Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer Andrews, 1793).

One of the points that I will be making in Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture is that the way that Edwards's books were published mattered. Using the publication of Edwards's works as a focal point, I will argue that the format, bindings, quality of paper used, and cost per copy of eighteenth-century books can tell us a lot about early evangelical publishing. For instance, one can see from the image above that there is a notable size difference between the Draper and Folsom edition of A History of the Work of Redemption in 1782 (on the far left) and the first edition of A History of the Work of Redemption, published at Edinburgh by William Gray in 1774 (second from the left). The 1774 first edition of this book was published in an octavo format (8) of close to 400 pages. The Draper and Folsom edition in 1782, although also published as an octavo, is only about 300 pages in length. A quick study of the typography of the two editions will show that the Draper and Folsom edition was printed more compactly than the first edition by William Gray, with smaller type and less generous line spacing. Many Reprints, like the Draper and Folsom edition of A History of the Work of Redemption, were printed more compactly in order to cut costs and often to market it at a cheaper price. But some reprints were composed page-for-page and line-for-line with the first edition, which is why it is important to look at key bibliographical information, such as collation formulas, on the English Short Title Catalogue or other sources, to determine if you are dealing with a true reprint or a reissue of the same book with a false title page (claiming, for instance, that it is a new edition). The pagination, collation formula, and typography reveal that the Draper and Folsom reprint is a true edition (and not a reissue) in which the type had been reset. The fact that it was reprinted as a more condensed book, that this is the second time that A History of the Work of Redemption was published, and that it was produced at America in 1782 is important information. Knowing these details, and the difficulty that Americans had importing books from Britain during the War of Independence, provide clues for why Draper and Folsom reprinted this book. Further evidence from manuscript letters and bookseller's advertisements in the period suggest that there seems to have been a demand for A History of the Work of Redemption in America that could not be met by the Edinburgh first edition published in 1774. Although William Gray's daughter Margaret reported to the Scottish minister John Erskine that there were some 200 unsold copies of the Edinburgh edition as late as 1786, the interruption of communication and trade that took place in the War of Independence barred these copies from being shipped to America for sale. Noticing that there was no second edition, Draper and Folsom probably sought to capitalize on the combination of a strong demand in New England, that there would not be any competition coming from British imports, and that they could market a cheaper version of the book. While this is admittedly a speculative analysis, especially since I have yet to locate an advertised price for the Draper and Folsom reprint to compare it with the Edinburgh edition to substantiate my claim about the former being a cheaper version, it represents a plausible interpretation that can be made from studying the history of publications.

Another interesting difference between the Folsom and Draper reprint and the first edition published by William Gray is the way that the two books were bound. The Draper and Folsom reprint, in the image on the left below, is clearly smaller in size. My particular copy was bound on calfskin, with raised bands, gilt lines, and lettering on the spine. The larger copy of William Gray's edition of A History of the Work of Redemption to the right was bound on sheepskin, which was a poorer quality material than calfskin, but it displays a more advanced "tree" style marbling that would have been stained by the finisher with pearl ash and copperas. Since this first edition was published in 1774, it fits very well within the period when this style of binding was popular in Britain, from 1770 until the end of the eighteenth century.
Two editions of A History of the Work of Redemption--Draper and Folsom (Boston, 1782) and W. Gray (Edinburgh, 1774)

I bought Isaiah Thomas's 1792 Worcester edition of A History of the Work of Redemption (the third book from the left in the image at the top of this post) because there is an an interesting story behind the scenes that took place when this book was published. After Jonathan Edwards died in 1758, his son Jonathan Edwards, Jr. eventually began working with the Edinburgh minister John Erskine to publish some of his father's manuscript writings. The first book published in this collaboration was the 1774 Edinburgh edition of A History of the Work of Redemption, originally a sermon series delivered by Edwards in 1739. Edwards, Jr. transcribed his father's manuscript, and sent it to Scotland for Erskine to edit into a continuous book. While editing it in Edinburgh, Erskine secured the services of a local bookseller named William Gray to publish it in 1774. Although two other editions of A History of the Work of Redemption had come out between the time of the 1774 first edition and Thomas's 1792 edition (including the Draper and Folsom 1782 reprint), Edwards, Jr. threatened to sue Thomas for illegally printing his father's work without offering him any copyright money or royalties. I have designated a place in my introduction to talk about this episode, but the short story is that Thomas curtly replied to Edwards, Jr. that the American Copyright Act of 1790 did not apply to him since the original British copyright for this book lapsed in 1788, and that American booksellers and printers could not be prosecuted for publishing foreign books.

The fifth image from the left is of Edwards's Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, first published in 1746. I talk quite a bit about this edition in my book because some 1,300 subscriptions had been taken for it, and it was printed on especially white paper, which I suggest came from a captured Spanish vessel during the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48) that was brought to port in Philadelphia. The brief synopsis of why I think that the paper in this book came from this captured ship is that Benjamin Franklin reported receiving a large stock of paper from this ship, selling off large portions of his supply to members of the colonial Boston book trade. I have found that during the years 1743 to 1746, several Boston printers (including Samuel Kneeland) issued pamphlets and books on very nice white, watermarked paper that can be traced to the Iberian Peninsula. In the image below, you can see Samuel Kneeland's typical "Cambridge panel" style of binding on the boards, with blind tooling and corner floral designs. Many of the books that Kneeland printed showcase this style of blind tooling that had been popular in England, from the late seventeenth century to about the 1740s.

Skipping to the far right image of books on my shelf is the two-volume set of Samuel Hopkins's System of Doctrines, published by Isaiah Thomas and his partner Ebenezer Andrews in 1793. Once I finish my monograph on how Edwards's works were published in the 18th century, I plan on writing an article on the publication of Hopkins's monumental systematic theology of the New Divinity movement. There is a ton that I could say about this book, including the huge subscription list and section of "Free Blacks" who subscribed, the cost of its publication, and some of the strategies that Thomas and Andrews employed to save costs during its printing. I am also intrigued by Hopkins's statement in his Sketches of the Life of the Late Rev. Samuel Hopkins, edited by Stephen West in 1805, that he received $900 in copyright money from Thomas and Andrews.

Rather than talk about these details, I simply want to highlight a key feature in my two-volume set. One of the most interesting aspects of my copy of Hopkins's System of Doctrines is a bookplate pasted to the recto of the title page to the second volume, opposite the table of contents. The bookplate indicates that this particular two-volume set belonged at one time to John Folsom's circulating library in Boston at No. 30 Union Street. This is the same Folsom who reprinted A History of the Work of Redemption in 1782. The bookplate further gives the conditions for becoming a member of the circulating library, stating that patrons would pay two dollars per quarter, which would allow them to borrow two books at a time for no longer than one month. Non-members could also borrow books and pamphlets, but at a higher cost, and only for one week. Finally, there is a notable statement about the conditions of borrowing books, letting patrons know that "Any Book lost, abused, leaves folded down, written upon, or torn, must be paid for; and if it belong to a set, the whole must be taken and paid for, or reasonable compensation made, and for the loan of it, up to the time of payment." If you look at the image of the spine on my set in the image above, you will notice the gilded number 52 at the bottom of the first volume. My first guess was that this number indicates that it was the fifty-second book in Folsom's circulating library, and shelved chronologically next to the other books that belonged there. However, in John W. Folsom's Catalogue of Books for Sale and Circulation... (Boston, [1794?]), Hopkins's System of Doctrines is listed as number 119 (out of 1086). So, I need to do some more research on the binding and lettering of my copy of the volumes.

Stay tuned for more posts on Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture.

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