“READ, AND BE WISE”: EARLY 19TH-CENTURY BATTLEDORE, IN FINE CONDITION
(BATTLEDORE). The Uncle’s Present, A New Battledoor. Philadelphia: Jacob Johnson, circa 1810. 12mo, original pocket-folded pale green wrapper with flap; pp. 4. $1200.
Early American copper-engraved alphabet used for teaching letters and numbers and for playing the game “Shuttlecock and Battledore,” with fine rear cover illustration of a horse by Alexander Anderson.
Battledores are purported to have been invented in London by Benjamin Collins around 1746. They were “offshoots of the hornbook…[and were] used for teaching children the alphabet, whilst out of school they served as the battledore in the game of shuttlecock and battledore”— an early form of badminton, in which a hornbook, and later a battledore, was used as the racquet (Rosenbach). “This American battledore features an alphabet of English cries… probably of Newcastle or York, and may have been modeled on an early set of cries engraved by Thomas Bewick” (Gottlieb). Dr. Alexander Anderson, who produced the horse illustration on the rear cover, “is considered one of America’s earliest and finest wood-engravers. During a career spanning seventy years, he produced a large number of illustrations for books, periodicals, newspapers, and other commercial ephemera” (New York Public Library). “I recollect being allowed an occasional peep at a considerable pile of prints,” recalled Dr. Anderson, “among which were Hogarth’s illustrations of the careers of the Idle and Industrious Apprentices. These prints determined my destiny.” Sinclair Hamilton attributes the front cover wood-engraving of sheep to William Mason. Rosenbach 428. Welch 1363. Hamilton 1014. Gottlieb 151. See also Hugo 4350-58; Osborne, 695, “Martin’s.”
Extraordinarily fine condition, with absolutely none of the expected wear.