Fine Books & Manuscripts
West, Benjamin (1730-1813) Bickerstaff's Boston Almanack. Danvers, MA: E. Russell, 1777. Small octavo pamphlet that employs the earliest published woodcut portrait of Washington in its second appearance in print; other woodcuts used in the text; stab-stitched, first leaf detached, some leaves loose, light wear, contemporary ink notes on title, interleaved with contemporary notes, 7 x 4 1/4 in.
The primitive profile portrait of Washington used on the title page is the first known American print of George Washington. His portrait is facing a portrait of Horatio Gates. The woodcut was first used in 1776 on a Salem imprint of the Declaration of Independence. (See George Washington, an American Icon: The Eighteenth-Century Graphic Portraits, by Wendy C. Wick, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1982).
A contemporary notation on July's calendar notes "four persons hanged at Worcester for murder on July 2nd," referring to the case of Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner (1746-1778). Spooner was the first woman executed in this country after the passage of the Declaration of Independence. She was defended by Levi Lincoln, prosecuted by Robert Treat Paine, and found guilty of orchestrating the murder of her husband. When she was executed she was five months pregnant.
Provenance: The Estate of David Spinney.
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