Thursday, 13 December 2012

James Hammond's Circulating Library

New York Society Library (NYSL; NNYSL on ESTC) recently announced on the SHARP-list that it has completed an online catalogue of its Hammond Collection, which is comprised of 1,152 novels, plays, poetry, and other works from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (i.e., mostly 1770–1820).

James Hammond's Circulating Library (information here), which operated out of Hammond's store in Newport, Rhode Island, reflected the popular reading interests of the time: including Gothic novels, romances, epistolary fiction, musical comedies, and other genres. A number of the books are quite scarce; in a few cases, being the only known extant copy.

I read through the entire catalogue in the hope of finding something of interest and wasn’t disappointed: there are only two Haywood items, the first of which I already knew about (Ab.64.4 Epistles for Ladies (London: H. Gardner, 1776) [No.542; here]; Ab.70.5a The Wife: interspersed with a variety of anecdotes and observations … (Boston: A. Newell, 1806) [No. 655; here]).

But there are also copies of Jacques Cazotte, The Devil in Love: Translated from the French (New York: C. S. Van Winkle, 1810) [No. 993; here], Memoirs and Adventures of a Flea (London: T. Axtell, 1785) [No. 1317; here] and Denis Diderot, The Nun (Dublin: Brett Smith, 1797) [No. 1372; here].

The 1810 New York edition of The Devil in Love had escaped my notice when I was compiling a list of early editions of this novel. Looking further into this omission, I realise I have missed all the nineteenth-century American editions of Cazotte, so I will have to update my post on that subject (here).

What I have not yet done, but will, is read through the Catalogue of James Hammond's Circulating Library, 142 Thames Street, Newport, R.I. (Newport, RI: Mason & Pratt's Power Press, 1853) (online here)—which claims to list eight thousand volumes. The Charles Sumner copy of this catalogue, held at Harvard—contains both of the items now at NYSL—Epistles for the Ladies, by the author of the Female Spectator [No.542, on p.21] and Wife; advice to the married of all conditions [No. 655, on p.70]—but it is possible that there are more Haywood items that did not make it to NYSL.

It is good to see that the NYSL is continuing to make information about its important collection available online. For my post on the NNYSL borrowing register (July 1789 to April 1792), see here.

No comments: