Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2004 Issue

The New American Cyclopedia, 1857 – 1866<br>A Time Capsule of the 19th century

Cyclopedia

The New American Cyclopedia, not so new anymore


By Carl Burnham

One of many interesting collections we have acquired recently is The New American Cyclopedia: A Popular Dictionary Of General Knowledge, a sixteen-volume set (of which we have fourteen). Published by D. Appleton & Company of New York from four years prior to the Civil War to a year afterwards (1857 to 1866), the volumes comprise over 11,000 pages of American and world history. Quite interesting to read, the aged volumes are decorative marble boards, leather-bound, with a raised band along the spine. On the front endpages of most volumes is the signature of the original owner, who noted where Bartolme Estaban Murillo, a Spanish painter appeared, to which it is assumed he was related.

As part of a collaborative effort, the primary editors were George Ripley and Charles A. Dana. Several writers also contributed to the volumes, including Karl Marx, founder of the Communist movement. Ripley, a Transcendentalist minister by trade, was also a notable literary critic and reviewer. Dana, a newspaper writer, war correspondent, and editor, would become the U.S. Assistant Secretary of War for the Lincoln Administration. Lincoln described Dana as "the eyes and ears of the government at the front" for his work as a field observer for the Army. Both men had been involved in organizing Brook Farm years before, a failed effort at communal farming in a utopian environment, which had supporters that included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, both noted within the volumes. After being in operation for six years, a fire destroyed many buildings in 1847, and the farm was disbanded.

Inside the volumes are a representation of the lifestyles in 19th century and earlier America, with detailed histories of famous and forgotten personalities, places, towns, cities, states, railroads, plantations, trades, industries, etc. throughout the world. Also, included are famous persons, authors, businessmen, politicians, soldiers, etc. Occupations, professions, business, and industrial methods are discussed as well.

Each U.S. State has many pages devoted to highlighting its history, population, railroads, industry, agriculture, way of life, and customs up to the time of publishing. Given the years of publication of each volume, in alphabetical order, some volumes have no reference to the War Between the States. Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederate States, is described at length as an American soldier and statesman. Later volumes issued after the war denote the Secession States. Cities such as Austin, Texas, are noted as having only 3,000 citizens. Nine pages are devoted to Boston, Massachusetts, including the notation that there are “383 physicians, of whom 25 are women…” (remember, this is 1857!). “Boston common is a small park of 48 acres, surrounded by an iron fence, erected in 1836, at a cost of more than $100,000. It is considered to date from 1634, and by a clause in the city charter it is made the public property forever, and the city cannot sell it, or change its character.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Shakespeare’s Sonnets, In Two Parts,</i> limited Saint Dunstan edition, Oxford University Press, 1901. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>The Man with the Golden Gun,</i> first edition, first state with the dust jacket, London, 1965. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>The Voyage Out,</i> first American edition of the author’s first book, in rare dust jacket, NY, 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gabriel García Márquez, <i>Cien años de soledad,</i> Buenos Aires, 1967. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Mary Mapes Dodge, <i>Along the Way,</i> first edition, author’s copy, annotated in her hand, NY, 1879. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> <i>The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion,</i> first edition, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy, Cincinnati, 1860. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gaston Leroux, <i>The Phantom of the Opera,</i> first American edition, first printing, New York, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Walt Whitman, <i>Leaves of Grass,</i> signed, Camden, 1876. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Faulkner, William. <i>The Sound and the Fury.</i> New York: Jonathan Cape, [1929]. First edition in dust jacket. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Trautz-Bauzonnet bindery. Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,000 to $3,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,500 to $3,500

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