I have always Loved early American books (for me that means printed in the colonies from 1639-1729 i.e. Evans vol.1) I guess it is their scarcity, their humble bindings and their crude typography and paper, make them particularly attractive to me.
These early american books as a genre are by far much rarer than Incunabula or even books on America. Printing in america at this time was for a particularily small, but growing audience. Thus there were small print runs, and the books were generally small productions.
Most American books in this period, as far as I can tell were bound in sturdy but wholly utilitarian bindings, most of the books in original bindings which I have had, have been bound in sheep or calf over scabbard, “Scaleboard, also known as scabbard, is thin wood that was used for bindings in Europe and Britain until around 1600 (and much less so thereafter). The material was incorporated into American bindings as early as the 1680s (and probably earlier) and continued in use until at least the 1840s. Scaleboard was used in place of paste or pulpboard long after those materials were widely available in America” It is likely that this tradition started in order to save paper, for use as paper where board could be used. American books in this early period generally led hard lives, and if in un-sophisticated condition show it.
As you can see in the image above the title page above is a little abused, but it is still in its original binding!
293G Rusell, Robert. fl 1692
Seven Sermons: Viz. I. Of the Unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost: or, the Sin Unto Death. II. The Saint’s Duty and Exercise: in Two Parts. Being an Exhortation to, and Directions for Prayer. III. The Accepted Time and Day of Salvation. IV. The End of Time, and Beginning of Eternity. V. Joshua’s Resolution to Serve the Lord. VI. The Way to Heaven Made Plain. VII. The Future State of Man: or, a Treatise of the Resurrection. By Robert Russel, at Wadhurst, in Sussex
Boston :Reprinted by John Allen, for John Eliot, at his shop in Orange-Street,1718
$2,600 Duodecimo, 6 X 3.25 inches. A1 (lacking A2-A5) A6 B1&2, B5&6, CI6, K1&2,(lacking K3&4)L1&2 (lacking L3&4)L5&6, N1-6, O1 (lacking O2-5) O6, P1 (Lacking P2-5 (P6 blank)
[Lacking 15 of 178 pages]
This book is bound in sheep over scabord and sewn on two leather sewing supports , a typical early American binding.
All Editions of this book are quite rare, there are only two copies of this Boston edition both at American Antiquarian Society Worcester.
Of Rusell, ( or Russell) I could find very little, yet he was immensely popular, especially in the colonies being reprinted in Boston in 1701, 1718,1727 & 1728. There is no doubt that Russell’s style of sermonizing upon sin met with the Mather’s approval.
All early editions are quite rare. The English Short Title Catalogue Database (the ESTC) http://estc.bl.uk/W253 for this book Shows only one holding. At the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester MA (only 20 miles for another know copy on my shelf)
I’ll add more descriptions of American books in my stock soon .
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- Glasgow Incunabula Project update (13/3/13) (universityofglasgowlibrary.wordpress.com)
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