The Acquisitions Table: Only Known Copies

This week we feature two items acquired by AAS in recent months.  What they have in common is that our copies are the only ones known to exist.  Given the age of these items (they were printed in 1795 and 1815 respectively) and given the fact that generations of bibliographers have labored to identify and locate every book, pamphlet and newspaper  known to have been printed in the United States when these were published,  it may seem strange indeed that we could acquire two such items during the same quarter.  However the fact is that although we know a great deal about what was printed in this period, new discoveries are not that uncommon. We always have pleasure in getting things we don’t already have, but that pleasure is much greater when things come into the building and we find that they seem to be unique copies.

They’re still out there, and that makes the search all the more exciting.


The singers pocket companion. Being an abridgement from Arnold. Containing concisely the rules of psalmody: to which are added a number of pages with blank lines that music may be written by any who wish to select from the various collections now published. Southwick [MA?]: Printed and published by J. Langton, 1795.

A newly discovered early American music book, apparently published in Southwick, MA. If so, it is by several decades the earliest Southwick imprint. Like other music books, the text and ruled pages are oblong in shape and entirely engraved. The title page is signed “J. Allen”—presumably the Boston engraver Joel Knott Allen, who engraved other music books at this time—hence this work may also have been printed in Boston. “J. Langton” may be Job Langton (or Langdon), an early settler of Southwick.  The Preface states: “The design of this publication is to furnish Schools with a concise system of RULES for SINGING with Blank lines for the purpose of inserting TUNES at every ones pleasure. The advantage of this will appear in saving a great expence to Learners; and in giving Masters opportunity to introduce in their schools tunes of their own choice.” This copy bears a contemporary inscription: “Moses Andrews Singing Book January 19th AD 1795,” and the 44 pages with blank lines are entirely filled with manuscript music in a contemporary hand. Purchased from Savoy Books. Hugh Amory Memorial and General Library Acquisitions II Funds.

~ David Whitesell, Curator of Books


True American (St. Clairsville, OH). Apr. 6, 1815.

AAS has acquired the only known issue of this title. When Clarence Brigham published History and Bibliography of American Newspapers 1690-1820 in 1947, he had located references to this newspaper, but no issues could be found. In 1961 he published a supplement in the AAS Proceedings, but he still had not located a copy. This issue turned up in a box of uncataloged miscellaneous issues given to AAS by the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. It confirms most of the information that Brigham gathered from secondary sources.

~ Vincent Golden, Curator of Newspapers and Periodicals

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