Adopt-a-Book 2011, Part 7: Newspapers & Periodicals

Today we continue a series of blog posts highlighting items from our upcoming Adopt-a-Book event, slated for Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at 6PM in Antiquarian Hall. You can read the entire Adopt-a-Book 2011 catalog on the AAS website, where you will find descriptions of all 176 items up for adoption this year.

The Society’s collection of early American newspapers and periodicals is among the greatest in the world, so scholars sometimes assume that we already have everything. Not true! Each year, our curator of Newspapers Vincent Golden finds new treasures to add to the collection. Sometimes a single issue is acquired to complete a run, while other purchases may include multiple bound volumes. Any issues of unrecorded papers or periodicals are also welcome, of course. As a result, the annual offerings for the Adopt-a-Book event are quite diverse and spectacular. Here are three examples (out of many) from this year’s event that are worth highlighting:

91. Little Genius (Boston). Vol. 1, no. 4, Mar. 13, 1847. Adopt me for $350

This previously unrecorded humor periodical (or at least humorous for the period) was discovered at a local book fair. No editor or publisher is given. The address for the publication is the same as that for Blackwell’s Antacrid Tincture, advertised on the back page, so it may have been used as a promotional piece for the product. The paper originally sold for three cents an issue which seems a bargain as the issue is heavily illustrated with cuts of people and animals and includes numerous jokes and stories, loosely disguised as news reports: “A fellow in Lowell has invented a machine to renovate old bachelors. Out of a good sized old bachelor, he can make quite a decent young man and have enough left over to make two small puppies, a pair of leather breeches, and a small kettle of soft soap.” Genius indeed!

54. Geneseo Journal (IL). Sept. 14, 1860. Adopt me for $125

This is the only known issue of a mammoth-sized campaign newspaper published by an association of Republicans. It was probably printed in the office of the Geneseo Republic. It avidly supported Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin, as well as a slate of Republican candidates for various state offices. Most of this issue’s political content was aimed more at attacking Stephen Douglas than promoting Lincoln, although the issue does include an article titled “What Lincoln will do” as well as giving details of the Republican platform.

3. After Dinner (Boston, MA). Nov. 8, 1873-Aug. 7, 1874. Adopt me for $125.

The masthead of this periodical is quite interesting: the title letters are made up of cutlery! This paper was a weekly and was filled with miscellaneous information aimed at generating after-dinner conversation. Articles on a wide variety of topics were printed in the paper, such as “Phosphorescence of the Ocean,” and “The Apaches.” One article on Boston’s public horse-cars begins, “The horse-car carries the modern world on wheels and is confessedly a great public convenience.” But the article, which is really a rant on poor public behaviors like spitting, and pushing and shoving, continues, “If any person has a mean streak in him the horse-car will show it up to the worst advantage. It is the paradise of the snarler, the hot-bed of the grumbler. . .” The article appeared in the November 29th issue, just as the holiday shopping season was beginning, and so it surely stimulated after dinner conversation about individual experiences on the crowded Boston horse-cars.

In order to adopt these or any other objects in the Adopt-a-Book 2011 catalog, please click on the link and follow the directions for “How to Adopt” which are found in the sidebar to the right at the top of the page. Remember, you don’t have to wait until March 29th to adopt!

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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