Boston: The Author, 1842. First Edition. Small oblong 4to. 52,  pp. including engraved title-page (reproduced on cover), engraved dedication leaf, 1 letterpress leaf ("Preface"), engraved plates numbered 3-24, then commencing with letterpress pages numbered 27-54 followed by an unnumbered letterpress leaf advertising Dearborn's engraving and printing services. COMPLETE as per the AAS copy. Bound in original printed paper boards, new red morocco spine, tissue guards mostly present. Very good. Item #3750
First edition, first impressions of all the plates. Ten editions were eventually published, all using (and reusing) the plates from our first edition; with each subsequent edition the plates deteriorated.
Contemporary reviewers praised the work. Nathan Hale wrote:
"We called attention to the plan of this highly useful work when Mr. Dearborn issued his prospectus for it. It has recently been published and the execution even exceeds the anticipation we had formed from the skill and taste which Mr. D. has already shown as an engraver; it will be found to include copies for every variety of "lettering" in use, and directions for the most correct method of making the various forms of letters, either with the pen, brush, graver or chisel. Mr. Dearborn's general directions will be found lucid and comprehensive. The work contains solutions of several chirographical puzzles, which are of some curiosity. Among others we notice a monogram of all the capital letters in the alphabet, which requires throughout but six complete strokes, or strokes occupying the whole interval from the top to the bottom of the line. Teachers and others who have occasion to investigate closely the shape and appearance of differem letters, will be pleased with these, as indeed with all parts of the work."
There is an engraved title-page, dedication leaf, 20 pages of writing specimens, plus Greek and Hebrew alphabets (one page for each). The text addresses a variety of matters concerning penmanship, such as making inks, making a good pen, writing styles, how to position oneself at the writing desk, and much more. This first edition is scarce in commerce.
Nash, American Penmanship 1800-1850, no. 300.