Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Volumes from Elbridge Gerry's Library at Auction

I worked on Elbridge Gerry's library in September, and after I've spent so much time with a collection I start to keep an eye out for anything in the news about that particular reader or his/her books. That paid off today, when I caught a press release about an auction on 29 January which will include a set of volumes from Gerry's collection.

Central Mass Auctions, Inc. of Worcester will be selling Gerry's thirteen volume Journals of Congress : containing their proceedings from September 5, 1774, to [November 3, 1788] (Philadelphia : From Folwell's Press, 1800-1801), of which just 400 copies were printed for the use of Congress.

The lot description of Gerry's volumes in the catalogue of his collection reads "75. Journals of Congress, from 1774 to 1788. 13 vols. half bound in red." But beyond that we knew very little about the books. Now, thanks to the auctioneers, we can add a bit more to our knowledge. They've uploaded some images of the volumes, the bindings of which look a bit the worse for wear (but no matter). I was much more interested to see the other pictures, since they tell us something of where the book has been since it sold at Gerry's auction in 1815.

The volumes contain the bookplate of Edward Everett (1794-1865), a leading 19th-century politican and orator (perhaps best known for delivering the speech before Lincoln at Gettysburg) whose papers are here at the MHS. There's also a note by Edwards in the first volume which reads "This Copy of the Journals of the Continental Congress belonged to Elbridge Gerry, Vice-President of the United States with President Madison in his second term. E.E." It's not clear whether Everett purchased the volumes directly from the Gerry sale or obtained them later, but either way this is a set with remarkable provenance and I hope it finds an appropriate home.

I've changed the book's LT record to reflect the updates.

1 comment:

jgodsey said...

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i can set up a search such as my hometown and something always pops up on my feed reader

sweet