Biblio Researching

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Preliminary Examination of a Pamphlet Containing
Two Reviews of Worcester's Edition of Johnson's Dictionary


On my desk lays a pamphlet.  And not just any old pamphlet, although it is old.  The pamphlet contains two dictionary reviews that were published in 1828.  And the two reviews are reviews of a dictionary most dear to my heart:  Johnson's English Dictionary; this one edited by an American by the name of Joseph E. Worcester (1784-1865).




I've written one blog post about this pamphlet already this month:  Some Worcester Sources and Other Discourses Concerning the Dictionary Wars, which is on My Sentimental Library blog.  Now, I will write a little bit about the pamphlet itself.  Thus far, however, I have more unanswered questions than questions answered.  So please consider this endeavor to be a "preliminary examination" of the pamphlet.


Who  wrote these reviews?


"Good luck with that," you're probably saying to yourself.    As in most other periodicals of the 1800s, the contributors were not identified by name when the articles were published.  Surprisingly,  however, this question is the only question I can answer at this time.  The reviews were first printed in The American Quarterly Review  and the North American Review respectively in 1828.  Interestingly, the page header printed in the American Quarterly Review was "English Ortheopy" (pronunciation of words).  And the page header in The North American Review was "English Vocabulary."  The page header on every page in my pamphlet, however, was "Johnson's Dictionary."

In the Widener Library, at Harvard University, there is a copy of  A Vocabulary; or, Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to Be Peculiar to the United States of America by John Pickering, Boston: 1816.   This particular copy belonged to Joseph E. Worcester, the one who edited the edition of Johnson's Dictionary that was reviewed in the two periodicals. And the book was given to Harvard at Worcester's bequest.



Bound in with Pickering's book were several pamphlets, including the pamphlet containing the two reviews of Worcester's edition of Johnson's Dictionary.



And directly below the title of the review from The American Quarterly Review, someone, possibly Joseph E. Worcester himself, wrote, "by John Pickering."



And on the review from the The North American Review that was appended to Pickering's review, someone wrote, "English Vocabulary, etc. by Sidney Willard."



In his Dictionary of English and American Authors, A. Austin Allibone devotes practically an entire page to John Pickering (1777-1846), and best sums up Pickering in one sentence:
Dr. Pickering was a man of profound learning in many branches of knowledge and in the department of linguistics has been surpassed by very few in any age (1590).
 I can verify that Pickering was the author of the review. But the first verification required a little bit of digging and deducing.

The February 1833 issue of The American Monthly Review  contained a full-page advertisement announcing that the Boston Publishers, Russell, Odiorne and Company, had just published a new edition of Johnson's Dictionary—the one edited by Worcester.  And included in this advertisement is this letter from John Pickering:

                                                                                                                                                          Boston, June 1, 1829
I have examined your new edition of Johnson and Walker’s Dictionary, which, as we are  informed by the editor, Joseph E. Worcester, Esq., ‘Is founded upon the great work of Johnson, corrected and enlarged by Mr. Todd,’ and includes ‘the entire labors of Walker on the pronunciation of the language;’ the work being intended ‘to comprise all the most important materials, and to answer all the essential uses of a dictionary for understanding, writing, and speaking the English language, and at the same time to enable the reader to see, as far as possible on whose authority everything rests.'    From the examination which I have made of the work, (without meaning to extend this remark to the whole American part of the Appendix) I am of opinion, that it is well adapted to the use intended, and will for all common purposes supply the place of the more copious works which are the basis of it.  The editor has performed his part of the labor with much care, and the volume is printed with great correctness; and in this and other respects it is far preferable to any manual of the kind in use.
                                                                                                                                                    JOHN PICKERING
Now someone reading this letter in 1833 might think Pickering's letter was addressed to the booksellers, Russell and Odiorne.  But Russell and Odiorne didn't publish their edition of the dictionary until 1833 ( I have a copy of their edition in my library). And theirs, according to J. D. Fleeman, was already the seventh impression of Worcester's edition of Johnson's Dictionary.  Charles Ewer and T. Harrington Carter were the publishers of the first two editions of Worcester's dictionary (1828 and 1829).   And they are the publishers identified in both reviews published in 1828.  Pickering's letter could only have been addressed to them.  And he wrote about examining their dictionary in The American Quarterly Review in 1828.

The best Pickering verification comes from Pickering himself.  John Pickering's review of Johnson's Dictionary is identified in a list of published writings in his memoir, which was published in 1846 in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.





And here's a third verification:  Anonyms:  Dictionary of Revealed Authorship by William Cushing, Cambridge, Ma. 1889:




Sidney Willard (1780-1856) is harder to verify as the author of the review in The North American Review; however, in an article by Julius H. Ward,  which appeared in The North American Review in 1915, Sidney Willard is listed as one of the leading contributors to the periodical for the period 1815-1830.  Willard, the son of a former President of Harvard University, was the Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages at Harvard from 1807 to 1831.  I should note that Allibone's Critical Dictionary ... records that Willard was also the Professor of the English Language (2731).  Willard later reviewed Worcester's 1846 dictionary: Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language as well.


Who printed the pamphlet?


Good question!  In 1828, Hiram Tupper, printer for the Examiner Press, Boston, printed Pickering's dictionary review that first appeared in The American Quarterly Review.  But the pagination was different than the pagination of the pamphlet that Worcester gave to Harvard, which is identical to the pamphlet I have.   Moreover, Tupper's pamphlet did not have Willard's review appended to it.  I believe Tupper printed Pickering's review for Pickering.  And a still unidentified printer printed both reviews for Worcester.  In the list of pamphlets bound with Pickering's vocabulary book,  someone wrote, "Phil.? 1828, as the place and date of publication of the review of Johnson's Dictionary.  However,  I believe the pamphlet was printed in either Boston or Cambridge, and most likely by a printer known to either Worcester or Willard—or both.



Who was the former owner of the pamphlet?





Written in the top right corner of my copy of the pamphlet is the name, "Wm H Spear."  Now there were a number of individuals who shared that name.  One of them was the proprietor of the Roxbury Female School in Roxbury, Ma., who later was associated with the American Institute of Instruction.   I believe this is the William H. Spear who signed his name to my pamphlet.  He would have wanted Pickering's review for his students because Pickering not only reviewed Worcester's dictionary, but provided a concise history of dictionaries up to that date.  Pickering's review is well worth reading even today.

Another "Wm H Spear" was William Henry Spear (1807-1879),  the grand nephew of John Hancock, and the heir to the Hancock estate.  Could these two Speares be one and the same?  Further research is required.  For now, I have Wm. H. Spear's signature.  And I have a promising lead on one of the Speares!

On April 14, 2015, Swann Auction Galleries sold an archive of Spear-Perkins family papers relating to the John Hancock estate.  Included in lot 162 were the papers  of William Henry Spear (1807-1879).   I will ask Swann Galleries to contact the winner of lot 162 and see if he or she will compare the Spear signature I have to that of Hancock's grand nephew, William Henry Spear.



Wish me luck on my further research!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Some Auspicious Biblio-Sleuthing





Auspicious:  Having omens of success. 
                  Johnson's Dictionary


I love researching the provenance of my books.  And I'm usually researching the names of the former owners of my books.  But in the case of The Wish,  I already knew the name of the former owner:  Charles Shackleton.  What I did not know was the name of the person who had given Shackleton the book.  This person signed "his name" on the front free endpaper.



I knew even before I bought it that it would be a challenge to identify this person.  I just didn't realize how much of a challenge!




I had four reasons for buying this particular book:
It was published in Jamaica, New York, which is where I grew up
I acquired it in June 2011 during my first and only visit to Booked Up in Archer City, Texas, Larry McMurtry's town of books, at the time, America's answer to Hay-on-Wye.
The book included a short life of the author, written by the New York bibliophile, Beverley Chew (1850-1924). And I wanted something written by Chew in my library.
I love challenges. 


Charles Shackleton (1856-1920), an artist from Cleveland,  was a member of the Rowfant Club .  And  J. S. W. – John Southwell Wood, (1853-1921) – the person who accompanied S— to Jamaica, Long Island on Feb. 8, 1902 to meet with Mr. Hopkins at his Marion Press, was a member as well.

I suspected that S— was a New York bibliophile who was giving the two Rowfant Club members a bibliophilic tour of New York.   I thought S— could be the bookman George D. Smith.   Smith, however, used the initials, G. D. S.    More than likely S—  was a member of the Grolier Club.  And by my count from the 1899 Member List, there were at least 18 resident members of the Grolier Club and 10 non-resident members whose last name began with the letter "S."  And there were 11 resident members and 3 non-resident members whose first name began with "S."  But I could find nothing in my initial research that any of these members signed their name as S—.   As a sign of the times, however, there were 12 resident members and 2 non-resident members who used an initial instead of spelling out their first name, with A. Edward Newton being the most famous of all of them.  But none of these 14 Grolier Club members had a first name which began with the letter "S."

I researched my books about book collectors and searched the web endlessly, looking for a bookman who signed his name as S—.   Finally, on June 28, 2011, I queried the EXLIBRIS-L mailing list, an elite group of librarians, booksellers and book collectors, for assistance.  The renowned bookseller, the Americanist, Norman Kane,  responded:
. . . Be that as it may, although I have peered at many an inscribed Marion Press book, I do not recognize "S". Having previously been the head of the fine press division of De Vinne's shop, Hopkins had a large following among the book collectors of his day, and the possible suspects may be numerous. Norman

Norman Kane, who passed away last year at the age of 88,  had bought the remaining Marion Press stock from the estate of Hopkins' son-in-law, and "subsequently sold a ton of books to Larry [McMurtry]."    My copy of The Wish, however, was not part of the remaining Marion Press stock that went to Texas.   S—  had given my copy to Shackleton back in 1902.

The Wish was one of ten books I bought in Texas in June 2011.   I made mention of it and my research of S— in my blog post for that month:  Ten Books From Texas And Two Reminiscences.  And  then I put my research of S— on the back burner.

But it didn't stay there for long.

I was poring over my books in August 2013, selecting choice passages for that month's blog post, Elegant Extracts About Books, Booklovers, And Libraries.   And when I opened my copy of A Shelf In My Bookcase, by Alexander Smith,  and looked at the front free endpaper, I had a sense of déjà vu.




S— added a period to his name.



But the handwriting was the same.

The "J" in "John" matched the "J" in "Jamaica."
The "h" in "John" matched the "h" in "Shackleton."
The "d"s in "Riddle" and ""friend" matched the "d" in "kind."
And the S— matched in both handwriting samples.

John Quinby Riddle (1835-1912), a successful Cleveland businessman, was a member of the  Rowfant Club as well.  Since Shackleton, Wood, and now Riddle were Rowfant Club members, I thought  maybe S— was also a member of the Rowfant Club..

There were 9 resident members of the Rowfant Club in 1902 whose last name began with "S" (not including Charles Shackleton) and 3 resident members whose first name began with the letter "S."  Surprisingly, there were no non-resident members whose first or last name began with "S."

I was able to narrow the list of "possible suspects" down to three:  Edward Tracy Scovill (joined 1894), Andrew Squire (1893) and Ambrose Swasey (1896).  Yet, I could find no evidence that any of the three signed his name as S—.

Ambrose Swasey was no stranger to me.  I have his signed copies of the Transactions of the Grolier Club in my own library.




Ambrose Swasey (1846-1937) joined the Grolier Club in January, 1918.  He acquired Parts II and III of the Transactions of the Grolier Club on Jan. 31, 1921, Part IV on Mar, 28, 1921, and Part I on Nov 9, 1926.  He pasted his bookplate of his invention, the Lick Telescope, in his books on Feb 8, 1930.



When I looked at Swasey's "J" and "S,"  they were significantly different than the "J" and "S" inscribed by S—.   Ambrose Swasey was not the bookman who signed his name as S—.

I then queried the Rowfant Club, hoping they could match my inscriptions to writing samples from the early 1900s in their archives.  But that lead didn't pan out.

I then checked the early Caxton Club members list to see if S— was a member of that club.  And in the 1897 Caxton Club Annual Report and Members List, I found this glorious name listed three times:



member list

S. Clifford Payson  originally from New York, moved to Chicago in 1886 and started working for the railroad in 1904.  He became a member of the Caxton Club in 1895.  When he gave Shackleton a copy of The Wish, he was a non-resident member of  the Grolier Club, listed under his full name, Samuel Clifford Payson.  Except for the possibility that he may have played tour guide for Shackleton in New York in 1902, I could find no connection between him and either Charles Shackleton or John Q. Riddle.

I then queried a friend in the Caxton Club, hoping the Club archives had a sample of S. Clifford Payson's handwriting to compare.   And when that lead didn't pan out either,   I put my research of S— on the back burner again.  But I could now see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Fast forward to May 2014.  I was almost certain that S. Clifford Payson was the person who signed his name as S—.  All I had to do to prove it was to to find a connection between Payson and either Shackleton or Riddle.

I found it.

There are 20 early year books of the Rowfant Club available for full viewing online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library website.  And the names, S. Clifford Payson, Samuel Clifford Payson, or S. C. Payson  are not listed in any of these year books.


But the earliest year book listed on the Hathi Trust website is from 1899.  The Rowfant Club, however, was founded in 1892.   Was it possible that S. Clifford Payson became a member of the Rowfant Club before 1899 and then quit?  Highly unlikely.  But not impossible.

I searched Google Books for "Rowfant Club" and "Payson."  And the first two results provided online access to the Rowfant Club 1898 Year Book:





And in the list of non-resident members for 1898, there was this glorious name:

Payson, Samuel Clifford


And then I found The Connection!


Charles Shackleton and S. C. Payson were elected together as Club members in 1898!


There was another Payson who was elected a member of the Rowfant Club in 1898; the same time that S. C. Payson was elected: George Shipman Payson.  His name, however, was mispelled in the 1898 Year Book,  first as "Payson, George S. Lipman," and then as "G. S. L. Payson."

I believe George Shipman Payson  (1862-1943), born and raised in Chicago, was S. Clifford Payson's cousin, and his sponsor in both the book world and the business world.

George S. Payson was a founding member of the Caxton Club (S. Clifford Payson joined the Caxton Club shortly after the club was formed in 1895).  Christopher de Hamel, in his June 2005 Caxtonian article, "Single Leaves," credits George Payson with suggesting the club be named after William Caxton.

George S. Payson became a non-resident member of the Grolier Club in Oct. 1893.  Samuel Clifford Payson became a non-resident member of the Grolier Club in Feb. 1895. From Transactions of the Grolier Club Part IV, 1921


Also in 1895, both S. C. Payson and G. S. Payson were elected as American Candidate Members of the Bibliographical Society in Great Britain.

Bibliographical Society News Sheet (G.B.) (June 1895)

For unexplained reasons, both Paysons were members of the Rowfant Club for only one year: 1898.   Were George Shipman Payson's feathers ruffled when the Rowfant Club misspelled his name in the 1898 Rowfant Club Year Book?

George S. Payson was a Yale University graduate, and a lawyer who became General Counsel for the Western Railroad Association in January, 1894.  His father, George Payson (1824-1893),  held that very position  for almost 20 years until his death from pneumonia on Dec. 1, 1893.

I believe George S. Payson used his considerable influence to help his cousin, S. Clifford Payson,  obtain a job as a freight agent for the railroad in Chicago in 1904.

S. Clifford Payson made a name for himself in the book world and later in the railroad world.  He was listed  in the 1897 edition of the List of Private Libraries:




The books S. Clifford Payson gave to Shackleton and Riddle were books printed by private presses.  The Marion Press reprinted The Wish, which was first published in 1693 and was a favorite of Ben Franklin.  The Torch Press privately printed A Shelf in My Book Case, an essay from Dreamthorp:  A Book of Essays Written in the Country, first published in 1863.  Dreamthorp was a favorite of A. Edward Newton and Christopher Morley.  The bookseller's ticket of The Burrows Brothers Company, Cleveland is pasted on the rear pastedown of A Shelf in My Book Case.  And I wonder if Payson bought  it there while on his way to visit Riddle in 1906?  S. Clifford Payson's job as a freight agent could have reunited his friendship with Riddle, who was vice-president of the hugely successful and nationally known Lockwood Taylor Hardware Company of Cleveland.  I also wonder if S. Clifford Payson discussed his Cruikshank Collection with Charles Shackleton, an artist, himself?

In 1893, the bibliophile, Eugene Field, mentioned "his Chicago friend, S. C. Payson" in the Introduction to Herbert S. Stone's First Editions of American Authors.  And The Book-Lover reprinted the Introduction, titled, "Ad Lectorem," in its entirety in its Autumn 1899 issue:





S. Clifford Payson displayed his Cruikshank Collection to Caxton Club members on Dec. 15, 1899:


And in 1897, S. Clifford Payson was one of the exhibitors of Nineteenth-Century Bookbindings:




When S. Clifford Payson started working for the railroad in 1904, he decided to make the railroad his whole life.  And, surprisingly, book collecting was not part of it.

S— resigned his Caxton Club membership as early as 1901.  And he resigned from the Grolier Club in April 1904.  He contacted the London firm of Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, and in November 1904, the auction house sold the books he had put up for auction:



Mr. Payson's Library, Lot Numbers 787-818


When the person who signed his name as S— sold his library in 1904, he no longer considered himself to be a bibliophile.   The only book-related event afterwards was when he gave his friend, John Q. Riddle, a book in March, 1906.

There is no mention of books or book collecting in any of his later bios  or notes about him that I found on the web.

Who's Who in the Pacific Southwest 1913




S. C. Payson 1910


History of San Diego County 1913

Listed as Samuel Clifford Payson (1915)


Journal of San Diego History 1996  S. Clifford Payson (1915)


Santa Fe Magazine June 1919
Listed as S. C. Payson
S. C. Payson 1921
The Theosophical Path Illustrated Magazine


Listed as S. Clifford Payson (1924)


The Late S. C. Payson 1865-1930


And so ends the biblio-sleuthing of the person who signed his name as S—.

I thank my friend Asta for finding the image of the pet detective.  And I thank the people at GetMyCat.com for allowing me to use the image from their website.