The Acquisitions Table: The Map of Man’s Misery

Ker, Patrick, fl. 1691. The map of man’s misery. Or, The poor man’s pocket-book. Being a perpetual almanack of spiritual meditations … Boston: Printed by T. G. for B. Eliot, [ca. 1710?]

The only known copy of a newly discovered early American imprint. Patrick Ker’s collection of meditations, arranged in a seven-day “week” extending from childhood to death and eternity, was first published in London in 1690. No subsequent English editions are known, but The map of man’s misery achieved extended popularity in colonial New England. Boston bookseller Samuel Phillips commissioned an edition in 1700 (copy at AAS, erroneously noted in some bibliographies as printed in “1692”), and later Boston printings appeared in 1706 and 1732 (copy at AAS). A copy of a fourth, unrecorded Boston edition turned up at auction this spring and is now safely in Worcester. Still in its original blind-ruled sheep binding over thin wooden boards, the copy is complete save for a hole where the all-important title-page date would be. However, we can deduce from the imprint—“Printed by T. G. for B. Eliot”—that this edition was printed by Timothy Green (1679-1757) for bookseller Benjamin Eliot (1665-1741) and must date between 1700 and 1714, when Green left Boston for New London. Bought at a Pacific Book Galleries auction. Sid & Ruth Lapidus, Bank of Boston, and Robert & Mary S. Cushman Funds.

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