Bibliography and the Book Trades

Bibliography and the Book Trades: Studies in the Print Culture of Early New England

Edited by DAVID D. HALL
Series: Material Texts
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 184
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    Bibliography and the Book Trades
    Book Description:

    Hugh Amory (1930-2001) was at once the most rigorous and the most methodologically sophisticated historian of the book in early America. Gathered here are his essays, articles, and lectures on the subject, two of them printed for the first time. An introduction by David D. Hall sets this work in context and indicates its significance; Hall has also provided headnotes for each of the essays. Amory used his training as a bibliographer to reexamine every major question about printing, bookmaking, and reading in early New England. Who owned Bibles, and in what formats? Did the colonial book trade consist of books imported from Europe or of local production? Can we go behind the iconic status of the Bay Psalm Book to recover its actual history? Was Michael Wigglesworth's Day of Doom really a bestseller? And why did an Indian gravesite contain a scrap of Psalm 98 in a medicine bundle buried with a young Pequot girl? In answering these and other questions, Amory writes broadly about the social and economic history of printing, bookselling and book ownership. At the heart of his work is a determination to connect the materialities of printed books with the workings of the book trades and, in turn, with how printed books were put to use. This is a collection of great methodological importance for anyone interested in literature and history who wants to make those same connections.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0390-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Short Title List
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The essays that are gathered together in Bibliography and the Book Trades describe the book culture of early New England and especially the artisans, merchants, and patrons who animated this culture, be it by arranging for books to be printed, imported, and distributed or by transforming copy into printed and (sometimes) bound books, broadsides, and ephemera. The first person to tell the story of this culture in any systematic manner was Isaiah Thomas, a Worcester, Massachusetts printer and bookseller who, late in life, published The History of Printing in America (1810). Many others have added to or corrected Thomas’s telling...

  5. 1. The Trout and the Milk: An Ethnobibliographical Essay
    (pp. 11-33)

    The title of this essay has two bêtes noires in view. It refers, mockingly of course, to The Raw and the Cooked, a book by a French Academician who, pursuing an enterprise founded by Bishop Wilkins, Leibniz, and Rousseau, holds that the knowledge to be derived from the oppositions between things is more fundamental than the knowledge founded on structures of words. Writing, which distinguishes “civilized” from “primitive” logic, may thus be seen as a colonialist instrument of enslavement, together with the falsely impressive heaps of books “entassés dans nos bibliothèques,” as Lévi-Strauss invidiously describes them in Tristes tropiques. This...

  6. 2. “Gods Altar Needs Not Our Pollishings”: Revisiting the Bay Psalm Book
    (pp. 34-57)

    The “Bay Psalm Book” can mean three very different things: a book, surviving in eleven of the original run of 1,700 copies printed at the Cambridge press; a nineteenth-century institution, enforced through facsimiles of the first edition, whose contents scarcely matter; and a text, revised in 1651 and reprinted down to the late eighteenth century. These are the proper subjects of physical bibliography, critical theory, and textual criticism, respectively. I shall revisit all of these, starting in physical bibliography, with the type. How many fonts did the Cambridge press have? Where did they come from? When and how were they...

  7. 3. “A Bible and Other Books”: Enumerating the Copies in Seventeenth-Century Essex County
    (pp. 58-79)

    “It would be an interesting and by no means insuperable task for one of our industrious bibliographers,” wrote Samuel Eliot Morison in 1936, “to make a catalogue of all the books that are known to have been in New England before 1700. My guess is that he would find about ten thousand separate titles, and that the number of copies of each work would range from several thousand of the Bible, and several hundred of the more popular works of puritan divinity, down to a single copy of the less common works.”³ The bibliographers whose work he so eagerly appropriated...

  8. 4. Under the Exchange: The Unprofitable Business of Michael Perry, a Seventeenth-Century Boston Bookseller
    (pp. 80-104)

    At the end of the seventeenth century, Boston booksellers clustered around the Town House, where the Old State House now stands. Here, at street level, was the merchants’ exchange; above them stood not only the courts, but also the armory and the public library; below them lay a once-new, preliterate world. In this symbolic situation, American goods, arriving from Roxbury Neck along Cornhill Street, met European credit, ascending along King Street from the harbor. The centrality of the Town House was not just geographical and commercial, however, but social and even intellectual. At either end of town lay traditionally rival...

  9. 5. Printing and Bookselling in New England, 1638–1713
    (pp. 105-145)

    The colonizing of New England happened in a rush. The “separatist” Pilgrims found a haven at New Plymouth in 1620. The Massachusetts Bay Company, a joint-stock venture chartered in 1629, initiated the “Great Migration” of 1630, founding Boston and several neighboring towns in that year. As more people arrived during the 1630s, they dispersed up and down the coast and as far inland as the settlements that became Hartford, Windsor, and Springfield along the Connecticut River. In 1640, when the first book was printed in British North America, New England contained five separate jurisdictions: New Plymouth; Massachusetts Bay, which claimed...

  10. 6. A Boston Society Library: The Old South Church and Thomas Prince
    (pp. 146-162)

    Thomas Prince was born in Sandwich, New Plymouth, probably in 1686, and served as minister of Third or Old South Church, Boston, from 1718 until his death in 1758.¹ By his will, dated shortly before his death, he bequeathed the church a collection of books, maps, and manuscripts “either published in New England, or pertaining to its History, & Public Affairs,” to be called “the New England Library” and kept in the “Steeple Chamber”² of the brick tower to the west of the main entrance of the new meetinghouse, familiar to us from the Freedom Trail today.³ There Prince had pitched...

  11. 7. A Note on Statistics, or, What Do Our Imprint Bibliographies Mean by “Book”?
    (pp. 163-170)

    The statistics in this essay derive from the North American Imprints Program (NAIP), an on-line machine-readable database maintained by the American Antiquarian Society. Historically, NAIP may be regarded as a revision of the American Bibliography of Charles Evans (1903–55) and its supplement by Roger P. Bristol (1970), both of them cumulated and corrected in the National Index of American Imprints (1969) by Shipton and Mooney. All of these, in different ways, are national retrospective listings of American imprints down to 1800.

    An imprint is a text that, in its fullest possible form, gives the date of publication and the...

  12. Index
    (pp. 171-175)