"FALLACY, DECEIT. FERVENT, HOT. FINALLY, LASTLY. FRAGILITY, BRITTLENESS": THE FIRST ENGLISH SPELLING BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED IN AMERICA: RARE EARLY AMERICAN EDITION OF FOX'S PRIMER, 1769
FOX, George. Instructions for Right Spelling, and Plain Directions for Reading and Writing True English. Newport: Printed by S. Southwick, 1769. 12mo, contemporary brown sheep neatly recased; pp. 95. $3200.
Early edition of the first English spelling book to be published in America, written by the founder of the Society of Friends, in a fine contemporary calf binding.
Fox's primer "blended a primer instructing students in spelling and syllabification with a compendium of basic knowledge" (Moulton & Heller, 77). It included spelling lessons, Quaker catechism, proverbs, and biblical references for young children, all intended for members of the Society of Friends. Publishing proved to be a powerful evangelical tool for the Quaker community, especially in America. The Society's publications both enhanced its reach—including across the Atlantic—and strengthened commitment and community among its members. In fact, Quaker books came to have a recognizable format: small, brief, and easy to handle, as here (see Jordan Landes, London Quakers in the Trans-Atlantic World). George Fox's instructions were first published in England in 1673 and in America in 1702; this desirable 18th-century edition was published in 1769 and thus was one of several editions published in the colonies prior to the Revolution. Evans 11285. Rosenbach, Early American Children's Books 62. See Freeborn 18.2.1.
Marginal paper reinforcement, mild embrowning to text, a bit of wear to contemporary sheep. An extremely good copy. Scarce.