Cape Cod, MA: 1793. Folio (paper stock ca. 300 x 200 mm). 24 pp. on laid paper, MS entries covering every page. In contemporary "home-made" rough canvas wrappers (worn), some damage (with loss of text) and inherent soiling to text. At least 8 ff. have been excised at the end and elsewhere. Fair condition, but an extraordinary survival. Preserved in a mylar L-sleeve backed with lig-free board. Item #3003
This crude manuscript graphically exhibits the extraordinary lengths to which colonial American students had to go in order to teach themselves. Provincial home-made textbooks such as this one almost never survive; we are unable to explain how -- or why -- this relic survived at all, especially considering its lamentable condition. The manuscript was certainly owned by the Higgins family of Cape Cod, who had descended from the Mayflower and who fought during the Revolutionary War (see below).
The present ciphering book solves often complex math and word problems, generally in the service of commerce. Currency is almost exclusively in British coinage but there is one reference to the conversion of British pounds into DOLLARS (fol. 7v). The present manuscript bears the date "April the 17th year 1793" (in a later hand!) on the final page: thus the MS features a very early reference to U.S. dollars by an American student (NB: on April 2, 1792, the U.S. Congress created the United States dollar as the standard unit of currency).
Lessons herein include the Numeration Table; Addition of Money; Addition of Troy Weight; Addition of Dry Measure; Subtraction; Multiplication Table; the Golden Rule or Rule of Three, and more.
PROVENANCE: Higgins family of Eastham / Granville / Orleans, MA). Several hands have contributed to the creation of the MS. On the verso of the penultimate leaf are written the first names of several members of the Higgins family, including Solomon, Anna, Elisa, etc. These names were written below an exercise concerning the application of the Golden Rule to calculate the division of a bequest, in this instance the Higgins family itself. On the recto of the final leaf is the repeated inscription of a member of the Higgins family who has resisted identification. The text on the verso of the final leaf is dated 1793 but this was clearly written by a later hand. On this page are written the names of several debtors to an unidentified individual, including "Timothy Doane of Eastman" and "Solomon Higgins of Granville." More provenance research on this MS will no doubt prove rewarding.