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Here at the BTC Blog we have decided to avoid the usual pitfalls of most New Year’s resolutions by focusing our attention not on petty goals like working out and eating healthy, but instead on spending more time with those closest to our hearts, our latest acquisitions. First up is a previously unknown 1856 broadside poem from B.D. Bozoth, a teacher from Fislerville (now Clayton), New Jersey, apparently intended to be sung to a specified devotional hymn and priced “Three Cents” in type at the bottom.
The poem is an anthem for the students of Fislerville, at the time a center of glassmaking situated between Glassboro and Vineland, wherein they pledge themselves to scholarly industry and demeanor, as well pledging good behavior:
“Our thoughts and acts we’ll form in prayer
Nor chew tobacco, curse nor swear;
For drinking rum and doing bad
Will only make our parents sad.”
On this particular copy, Bozorth has used the entire verso of the broadside to write a letter from “Fislerville, Gloucester Co., Jan. 16th 1856” to E.L. Cowart, asking for his assistance in finding a better paying teaching position, offering to pay him a commission dependent on the salary he can secure for Bozorth, and asking Cowart to contact him within six months.
Benjamin D. Bozorth (1826-1892) spent his life as a teacher, the 1880 census found him still working as a teacher in nearby Maurice River, N.J. He died in Porchtown, N.J. in 1892. The recipient of the letter, Enoch L. Cowart was a prominent farmer and merchant in Freehold, N.J., where he owned a farm on the Revolutionary War site of the Battle of Monmouth. *OCLC* locates no copies of this broadside.
A complete description is available on our website.
As personal papers and archival collections are increasingly sought after by librarians and collectors, we have accordingly been conducting a fair bit of original cataloguing of various special collections materials in order to keep up with the demand. I’ve thus become better at identifying and describing the papers and ephemera of obscure authors and artists, and even a few famous punk rockers unknown only to me; but every now and then I am confronted with anonymous or original materials of considerable interest which I cannot identify, despite my best efforts. Here for example is a hand-painted illustration from the 1930s signed “AM”:
It is not often that one discovers the work of an overlooked or forgotten genius, or a previously-unknown work of an established master. This is, of course, the hope which moves us to carefully examine all sorts of periodical publications and ephemera. So when Tom asked me to catalog two large folio volumes of the Philadelphia-based Saturday Evening Post, from 1827 and 1828, I was pleased to find the puzzle poem “Enigma” attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, and “Psalm 139th” by his brother Henry Poe. Perhaps the most interesting contributions to these volumes are not the Poeiana, but rather a whole series of botanical sketches and other contributions by an eccentric genius with the evocative name Rafinesque. More on him further down. Here is the unsigned “Enigma,” from the March 10 issue of 1827:
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The graphic designer S. Neil Fujita has passed away at age 89. Among his most famous dustjacket designs were In Cold Blood, The Godfather, and John Updike’s Pigeon Feathers. During World War II the Hawaiian-born Fujita served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up almost entirely of Japanese-American volunteers, and which became the most highly decorated unit of the war.
BTC’s headquarters in the “new-old” red brick public school building in Gloucester City, New Jersey, lies about a mile from the Delaware River at the foot of the Walt Whitman Bridge. A city marina and a small patch of park can be found there, literally at the end of the road from our building, but it is not a place where one would go for a picnic.
It wasn’t always so. Back in the day Thomas Eakins went there to conduct several photographic studies of shad fishermen. His two great paintings, Shad Fishing at Gloucester on the Delaware River and Mending the Net, were both composed from these studies in 1881. Eakins in fact came to Gloucester quite often, and made numerous drawings and watercolors of the river and the inland farms and fields. We are now inclined to think of Gloucester as “Eakins country.”
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Much has been written about the great color-plate books of the Regency Period – and rightly so. To give just three examples: Humphry Repton, a man of privilege who enjoyed royal favor, published his great books on landscape gardening and architecture from the 1790s to about 1820; in 1808 Rudolph Ackermann published the Microcosm of London, with many of its 104 plates of contemporary London scenes designed by the great caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson; and from 1814 through 1825 William Daniell published his epic Voyage Round Great Britain, consisting of 308 plates. The illustrated plates in these lavish works are aquatint engravings printed in one to three colors, with tinting and additional colors added by hand. A great many of mainly immigrant women and children were needed to hand color the prints.
These books have survived in large numbers relative to the size of the original editions, and one can consult R. V. Tooley’s bibliography for detailed accounts of the various issues of an edition and the various printed states of individual plates. By contrast, relatively little is known about the many hand-colored chapbooks, pamphlets, satiric and salacious prints, and associated ephemera from this period, most of which have long disappeared.
We recently acquired an unusual pamphlet published by one John Fairburn that falls exactly into this nether world, which is only now becoming better known to us thanks in large part to historian Iain McCalman’s 1988 study, Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840.
Long before Darwin’s Origin was published in 1859 there was in Victorian society a strong popular interest in natural history. Not only did the microscope reveal previously hidden wonders, exposing for the first time the sexual life of plants, but advances in printing technology made it possible to reproduce and disseminate such images – in color – among the new and rapidly growing middle and working class populations. An excellent example of this historically unique intersection between science, technology and religion just appeared on my desk: the 1855 edition of Rev. Charles Kingsley’s Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore.