Brookfield, Mass. E. and G. Merriam, 1828. 8vo. 222 pp. Woodcut frontispiece + 2 full-page woodcut plates (found opposite pp. 108 and 144). Original SCALEBOARD binding: quarter sheep over thin scaleboard, both boards covered with blue printed papers (both quite rubbed, affecting legibility, board bowed). One half of the rear cover is completely broken off (vertically). Spine is rubbed but sound. First endpaper torn away, final endpaper soiled and worn where the cover is missing (not doubt for many years). With faults, and priced accordingly. Fair. Item #3640
Interesting early American BOOK CURSE written inside a SCALEBOARD binding; we transcribe the anathema verbatim: "Stal not this book for fear of Shame for hear you reeth."
This is a contemporary scaleboard binding. Scaleboard (a.k.a. scabbard or scabboard) was made from very thin sheets of wood that had been split (going towards the grain) instead of being sawed. Owing to their fragile nature, the survival rate of early American scaleboard bindings is not high considering that they were once ubiquitous on schoolbooks such as this one. Because our binding is seriously damaged, its construction is readily apparent: the grain of the scaleboard is horizontal, a common New England practice. The use of scaleboard in early American bookbindings has received considerable scholarly attention of late; see Renee Wolcott's "Splintered: The History, Structure, and Conservation of American Scaleboard Bindings" in: Book and Paper Group Annual vol. 32 (2013) pp. 58-79, with a bibliography of no less than 32 references.
The present textbook was "adapted to the capacities of youth" by A.T. Lowe. Of particular interest to us is the text that appears on pp. 84-86: in nineteen numbered paragraphs the "Slave Trade" is absolutely excoriated. The first two paragraphs are as follows:
"1. The leading object of Europeans, in their commercial connexion with Africa, for more than three centuries, has been the prosecution of the slave trade. European nations call themselves civilized and christian ; yet it will remain an indelible reproach to them, that for so long a time, their intercourse with Africa, instead of imparting to the natives the blessings of civilization and religion, has tended only to destroy their happiness, and to debase their character.
"2. What impressions must the much injured Africans have respecting the religion and humanity of Europeans ! The treatment which they have received has caused them to identify Christianity with perfidy and cruelty ; and many years must elapse before their unhappy prejudices will be removed. This abominable trade has cherished among the unfortunate negroes the vilest passions."
The above was likely taken from the work of James Beattie (1735-1803), Scottish poet, philosopher, and human rights advocate. The text was certainly adapted by J.E. Worcester and published in this form in his "Sketches of the Earth and Its Inhabitants" (Boston, 1823).
¶ In addition to the aforementioned (poorly spelled) book curse, other inscriptions include the names of "Samuel James" and "S.D. Davis."