Amherst, N.H. Printed by Samuel Cushing, 1796. 12mo. 1 f. (title-page), pp. 11-90 pp. (i.e. lacking pp. 3-10). Text browned and foxed on account of the paper stock. Bookplate removed. A defective copy, priced correctly. Item #3350
A popular anti-Catholic text, the title of which reads like "the plot of a Gothic novel with incarceration, murder, and religious persecution all rolled into one" (Allison Milbank).
While the present copy is obviously defective, we are pleased to offer it because of its early American scaleboard binding, the construction of which may be clearly discerned and studied BECAUSE the book so defective.
Scaleboard (or scabbard / scabboard) was made from very thin sheets of wood that had been split (going towards the grain) instead of being sawed. Whereas the survival rate of early American scaleboard bindings is not high, owing to their fragile nature, they were one in great abundance. In the present binding, the grain of the scaleboard is horizontal, a common New England practice.
The use of scaleboard in the construction of American bindings has received significant scholarly attention of late; see Renee Wolcott's formidable work entitled "Splintered: The History, Structure, and Conservation of American Scaleboard Bindings" (Book and Paper Group Annual 32, 2013, 58-79) which concludes with a bibliography of no less than 23 references.
According to Milbank, the title of present work reads "exactly like the plot of a Gothic novel with incarceration, murder, and religious persecution all rolled into one, and the role of the editor guaranteeing and framing the narrative." Here is the full title-page transcription:
"The French convert: being a true relation of the happy conversion of a noble French lady: from the errors and superstitions of popery, to the reformed religion, by means of a Protestant gardiner her servant. Wherein are shewn her great and unparallelled sufferings on the account of her conversion -- Her wonderful deliverance from two assassins hired by a popish priest to murder her -- and of her miraculous preservation in a wood for two years; and how she providentially found by her husband; who, together with her parents, were brought to embrace the true religion."
SOURCE: Milbank, God and the Gothic: Religion, Romance and Reality in the English Literary Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2018), p. 20.