Monthly Archives: January 2014

Conservation of a “Valuable Lot”

The author working closely with chief conservator Babette Gehnrich.

Halaina Demba, our guest author here, is a third year student in the Buffalo State College Program in art conservation. She spent this past summer, the final one of her graduate studies, interning in the Society’s book and paper conservation lab. This summer the American Antiquarian Society received a unique gift of an 1854 broadside with ...

The Acquisitions Table: American Fortune Telling Cards

American Fortune Telling Cards, with Directions. New York and Philadelphia: Turner & Fisher, after 1835. 36 cards with box. AAS has several sets of fortune telling cards in its Toys and Games collection. This set features typical four-suit cards suggesting travel, wealth, poverty, love, etc., but is distinctive because many of the images feature American eagles, ...

Adventures in Cataloging: Inscriptions

The re-stitched bindings of Perry’s Royal Standard English Dictionary (Worcester, Mass., 1788), Radcliffe’s Romance of the Forest (Philadelphia, 1803), and Russel’s Seven Sermons (Boston, 1715).

As a cataloger for the North American Imprints Program, my job is to catalogue books and pamphlets printed and published in North America between 1801 and 1820. I describe them, I put them into context with other books and pamphlets, and I become the latest person to handle an item that is two centuries old. Many ...

The Acquisitions Table: Constitution and By-Laws of the Hook & Ladder Company

Constitution and By-Laws of the Hook & Ladder Company, No. 1, Cleveland. Cleveland: Rice & Penniman, 1836. APPARENTLY UNRECORDED, ONLY KNOWN COPY! Rice & Penniman were known to be printing in Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s, but this particular pamphlet is evidently entirely unrecorded. The Constitution for this firefighting company defines the duties of the Officers, who ...

Happy Birthday, Isaiah!

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We're wishing a very happy 265th birthday to AAS founder Isaiah Thomas! We compiled this card from Thomas’s own copy of A Specimen of Printing Types by Thomas Cottrell, Letter Founder. As our gift, we’ve digitized the 1774 London imprint, so you can browse the type specimens and ornaments! You can find it in our digital ...

These amateur puzzle newspapers aren’t for amateurs

The Bay State Puzzler

AAS has one of the largest collections of nineteenth-century amateur newspapers in the country.  These were little publications printed on table-top hobby presses and often done by children and young adults.   They became popular in the 1870s and by the 1880s hundreds of them were being published all over the country.  Their publishers even had ...

The Acquisitions Table: Tippecanoe Banner and Spirit of Democracy

Tippecanoe Banner and Spirit of Democracy (New-Albany, IN) Oct. 15, 1840. No. 27. Here is an example of a presidential campaign newspaper supporting the election of William Henry Harrison. The hotly contested presidential election of 1840 produced a lot of campaign newspapers produced by local newspaper offices to promote candidates and platforms. This example was published ...

Notes of a sub-sub-sub

First edition covers of Moby-Dick

Whenever it's a damp, drizzly November (or January) in your soul, where do you go to keep from knocking people's hats off?  In Melville's Moby-Dick Ishmael goes to sea, while the novel's sub-sub librarian (Melville's fictional assistant, assistant librarian who scours the earth for the "Extracts") apparently retreats to literary references to the Leviathan.  The sub-sub ...

Instagram Redux

The Society's Graphic Arts collection is a wonderful place for browsing, looking for visual evidence of whatever topic you may be working on.  I have helped researchers hunt in the collection on such broad topics as death, food production, and dress, and as specific as orphaned children, methods of doing laundry, and book shop interiors. As ...

The Acquisitions Table: Reynard the Fox

Reynard the Fox. After the German Version of Goethe by Thomas James Arnold. London: Trubner & Co.; New York: Theo. Stroeffer, 1870. This is a folio format edition of the celebrated animal adventurer Reynard the Fox. This luxurious metal engraving of Reynard reclining after a busy day of hunting prey was engraved by Rudolph Kahn after ...

As Luck Would Have It

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As Thomas Jefferson put it, “I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”  Here at the American Antiquarian Society all of the curators work very hard in acquiring new items for the collections.  Every year thousands of items are added to our holdings. Sometimes ...

The Acquisitions Table: Small Family Papers

Small Family Papers, 1820-1905. The Small family resided in the town of Hiram, Maine. According to the 1850 census, the Small household was anything but. The head of the house, Daniel Small (1800-1877), is listed as a cooper. According to correspondence in the collection, he also served as an agent of the Hiram school district. He ...