Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Newly Arrived

In the mail today was an exciting acquisition: a copy of Thomas Prince's 1736 Chronological History (or, more accurately, as its title page reads: A Chronological History of New-England in the Form of Annals: Being a Summary and Exact Account of the Most Material Transactions and Occurrences Relating to this Country, in the Order of Time Wherein they Happened, From the Discovery by Capt. Gosnold in 1602, to the Arrival of Governor Belcher, in 1730. With an Introduction, Containing a Brief Epitome of the Most Remarkable Transactions and Events Abroad, from the Creation: Including the Connected Line of Time, the Succession of Patriarchs and Sovereigns of the most Famous Kingdoms & Empires, the Gradual Discoveries of America, and the Progress of the Reformation to the Discovery of New-England. By Thomas Prince, M.A. Vol. I. Boston, N.E. : Printed by Kneeland & Green for S. Gerrish, MDCCXXXVI).

I wouldn't have expected to be able to acquire this title anytime soon, but thanks to an Amazon seller thinking he had a broken set (the second volume of Prince's work wasn't published until 1755), I ended up with a deal I couldn't let slip by. This copy, as with most copies of Prince's work still in their typical binding (the binding on my copy is almost identical to Thomas Gillan's copy, pictured here) isn't in the absolute best of shape, but I rather like books that seem to have been read and used, and most copies of Prince seem to have that feel about them.

The subscriber list for Prince's book was massive (it takes up nearly twenty pages in the text, with many subscribers ordering more than one copy) so it's not surprising that this book (and in fact many copies still extant) appears to have belonged to a subscriber. The inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf of my copy is quite faded (enhanced image here) but may be that of one Samuel Hendly, merchant of Charlestown, who subscribed for two copies (it looks more like "Heaney" to me, so I've got to see if I can track down a Hendly signature and compare the two).

On the rear flyleaf is another interesting notation (images here and here) which is also very faded and difficult to make out, but appears to say "June 24, 1775 Doct Call," followed by two lines of text that say I'm-not-sure-what (but are followed by prices or costs). If anybody wants to take a whack, let me know and I'll send the images. Finally on the rear pastedown is the inscription "Thos. Fosdick Book" (image); there appear to be several gentlemen by that name, so another one to try and track down.

There's definitely a project out there for somebody to check out the surviving copies of Prince's work and look at evidence of early readership, or do a study of the subscribers - it's quite a fascinating work, and I'm happy to have a copy on my shelves.