Large and Important Collection of Twenty-five Historic Boston AlmanacsS.N. Dickinson. The Boston Almanac for the year.... Boston: Published by B.B. Mussey & Co., and Thomas Groom, [1837-1862]. Books range from 1837 to 1862, and are fairly consistent in format and size (most 3.25 x 5.5 inches). Bound in the publisher's original bindings of usually brown cloth, often stamped in gilt and blind. The number of pages increases over the years from about 137 to 344. Not all years are included. Those years included are as follows: 1837, 1840 (2 copies), 1841, 1842, 1844, 1845 (2 copies), 1848 (2 copies), 1849, 1850 (2 copies), 1851, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1862 (3 copies). Took over 35 years to assemble. Extremely interesting source of vastly diverse information on Boston and Massachusetts. Useful for everyone wishing to know what business existed at what periods of time, to mention only one aspect of their value to historians. Additional subjects covered include weather tables, historic events, census, national government, court, state government, militia, bands, insurance companies, omnibus stations, societies, libraries, churches, newspapers, tow boats, packets, maps, horse railroads, street index, business directory, cemeteries, wharves, eclipses, and more. List of business category is most valuable. Advertising is fascinating. Each is a hardboard, pocket sized book neatly and artistically done.
Within this collection, the most important volumes (have 3 copies) to Civil War historians and collectors are those from 1862. It shows who was in business in Boston (center for military outfitters), has listings of soldiers, and is, in fact, a Civil War relic in itself. 3.25 x 5.5 inches, 344 pages. Introduction to this volume explains that its content has been transferred from its original intent as a business directory to make it "the interesting Record of the Great Rebellion". It includes list of Navy ships and officers, list of Army Generals, tabulations of volunteers by state, the different commands and departments, and list of New England Volunteers by Regiment/Company, plus Rhode Island Volunteers, Connecticut Volunteers, Maine Volunteers, New Hampshire Volunteers (officers only), and Vermont was too late to appear. 1862 volumes have traditionally brought several times the price of any other years, except the rest covering the Civil War.
Below are specific descriptions of each year's volume(s):
1837 - Dark green hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Owners names on front with date. Map in front. Categories of information a bit less than later issues. Lacks names of businesses and appears to lack the last page, a calendar. Very good condition.
1840 - 138 pages. Dark green hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Map in front. Amazing amount of informational categories far beyond the general description above. Does not have list of all businesses (which came in a few years later), but does have the beginnings of a basic advertising section.Very good condition.
1840 - Second copy. Faded brown cloth covers. Text is identical. Covers just somewhat more worn/faded.
1841 - 127 pages. Attractively embossed brown hard covers with quaint gilt figure on cover with title and year. Inside about identical to above plus a full city directory of business, plus a national summary of the most interesting events of the prior year, which appears as a section in most succeeding issues. Excellent condition. May lack fly leaf with index.
1842 - 130 pages. Pretty dark blue hard covers with title and year in gilt on cover. Contents about identical to 1841, updated. Excellent condition.
1844 - 178 pages. Note the books are getting larger as the years pass. This one is in practically new condition brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Added bulk from prior years due to expanded and interesting summary of prior year news events and greatly enlarged listing of businesses by category. Excellent condition. Map not included this year.
1845 - 168 pages. Dark brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Contents about the same as prior years plus updates and the beginnings of a larger advertising section at rear. Very good condition, showing light edge wear. Map not included.
1845 - Second copy. Covers show slight fading and some splitting of the fabric spine at the hinge, almost exclusively at the rear.
1848 - 194 pages. Typically embossed brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Nice fold out Boston map in front. Some incidents mentioned about the War with Mexico in the prior year's retrospective. Advertising section shows growth. Rest of text roughly as prior years - with updates. Extremely wide and diverse information as are all the issues. Excellent condition.
1848 - Second copy. Slightly more used - still very good. Lacks fold out map in front.
1849 - 218 pages. Typically embossed maroon-brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. The funeral of John Quincy Adams, and some incidents of the War with Mexico, including the Peace Treaty are mentioned in the prior year's retrospective. Has fold out Boston vicinity map in front. Some tape repairs. Dated 1849. Rest of text standard and extensive. All Boston schools illustrated. Condition very good. Covers somewhat faded. Text very good.
1850 - 212 pages. Typically embossed reddish hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Covers worn, shaken. Edges frayed. Boards faded lighter toward brown. New England fold-out map parted at some folds. Rumpled. Needs ironing and archival tape repairs. Text very good. As years go by, one sees ever more illustrations. Several new municipal buildings shown. Directory of businesses quite large. Advertising grows and is becoming more illustrated, adding considerable charm. Worn book but rare.
1850 - Second copy. Fine condition. Covers sharp, with some fading on lower quarter on front and generally on rear. Crisp text. Lacks fold out map. Very attractive advertising end papers.
1851 - 202 pages. Nicely embossed brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Standard broad contents. Historic retrospective has, as in most cases, fascinating historical content - pirates, Southern Indian Wars, data on the numbers of emigrants going West to California, passing through Fort Laramie, more. Illustrated advertising front and back. Generally excellent except right edge of front cover and portion of rear cover faded (probably damp stain).
1852 - 176 pages. Embossed brown hard covers with title and year on the cover in gold. Hand colored fold-out map of Boston on front. One 3.5 inch tear needing archival tape repair. A huge amount of information is compressed within these books, with several illustrations. This one has a full page engraving of the U.S. Arsenal at Springfield. Summary retrospective of prime historical events includes much on the Fugitive Slave Bill, rescue of a slave in custody in Boston, many Union meetings, and talk of Secession. Excellent condition. Little wear to corners of covers and top and bottom of the spine.
1854 - 198 pages. Standard embossed brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Excellent. Covers lightly faded. Interior strikingly handsome. Three end pages front and back are brilliant blue printed in gold...a color rarely seen after the mid-1800's. Front has excellent fold out map of Boston dated 1853. Didn't find historic retrospective of prior year, apparently displaced with pictorial section on churches. Neat issue.
1855 - 220 pages. Unusually attractive end papers, three front and three back, of brilliant blue with gold print mixed with yellow paper. Standard compressed data categories except historical retrospective - replaced with pages dealing with projected municipal development. Covers excellent green with gilt title and year.
1856 - 250 pages. Embossed brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Striking end papers in glossy maroon red with gold print. Nice fold out map of Boston dated 1856. Massed, compressed information. Lots of illustrated advertising. Excellent condition. Very light, even cover fading. Comprehensive business directory. Valuable reference for determining when a business began and operated - dating antique items with listed dealer names...the greatest value of all these books.
1857 - 238 pages. Embossed brown hard covers with title and year on cover. Covers worn and a bit loose. Spine cover is prox. 20% gone. Standard data categories plus historic retrospective of prior year's great events reinstated after a few years absence. A few interesting stories include return of the arctic rescue ship "Release", the beating of Charles Sumner in the Senate, and Horace Greeley on the Capitol grounds, and numerous incidents in Bloody Kansas. Condition is well used. Paper a bit toned. Complete. Includes map (torn in half).
1858 - 292 pages. Brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Fine condition with 1858 fold out map. Extremely comprehensive encyclopedia on Boston, its facilities and businesses. Retains historic retrospective of pertinent and interesting national events of prior year - includes alarm throughout the South of an imminent slave revolt. Also this issue inaugurates a new section, a business directory by street, additional to business directory by category. Valuable reference.
1859 - 266 pages. Maroon brown embossed hard covers with title and year in gold on cover. Excellent fold out map of Boston dated 1859. Standard comprehensive content. Street business directory of prior year replaced with descriptive pieces on Harvard, and the Back Bay and Franklin St. Basic business directory massive and well illustrated. Prior year historic retrospective includes Supreme Court's decision on the Dred Scott case; the Trans Atlantic telegraph cable completed, Brigham Young prepares to repel invaders, Kansas affairs. Condition excellent. Cover color faded.
1860 - 258 pages. Brown hard covers with gilt title and year on cover. Standard data categories. Fold out map in front missing right third. Text clean, excellent. Emphasis on business directory and advertising, without slighting the other subjects.
1862 - For Civil War collectors, the most important volume, as it shows who was in business in Boston (center for military outfitters), has listings of soldiers, and is, in fact, a Civil War relic in itself. 344 pages. Introduction to this volume explains that its content has been transferred from its original intent as a business directory to make it "the interesting Record of the Great Rebellion". It includes list of Navy ships and officers, list of Army Generals, tabulations of volunteers by state, the different commands and departments, and list of New England Volunteers by Regiment/Company, plus Rhode Island Volunteers, Connecticut Volunteers, Maine Volunteers, New Hampshire Volunteers (only officers for NH); Vermont was too late in submitting their rosters. Three copies present: 1. Very good-Excellent. Shows light use. 2. Good - Cover very worn. Text very good. Shows use. 3. Good - Cloth loose from cover boards, simple repair with contact cement, needed also on spine. Text very good. Shows use. A wonderful collection.
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