“DEEP IN THE CELLAR AND UNDER THE SPELL OF BEER— I WAS FORMALLY ADMITTED TO THE BROTHERHOOD”: ALEXANDER GUNN’S NOTES ON THE SEPARATISTS
GUNN, Alexander. The Hermitage-Zoar Note-Book and Journal of Travel. WITH: Letters. New York: (William C. Whitney; De Vinne Press), 1902. Two volumes. Octavo, mid-20th-century full brown morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut. $475.
Limited first edition, number 70 of an undetermined printing, of this first-hand account of life among the German Separatists who founded the town of Zoar in Ohio, with photogravure frontispiece portrait, handsomely bound.
About half-way between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, the village of Zoar was the home of “a communistic society who call themselves ‘Separatists,’ and who founded the village in 1817, and have here become quite wealthy… The Separatists of southern Germany were equivalent to what in New England are called ‘Come Outers— protestants against the prevailing religious faith, or, as they would say, lack of faith… They cherished different religious or doctrinal beliefs, were stigmatized as fanatics, but were usually, I judge, simple-hearted, pious people, desirous to lead a more spiritual life than they found in the churches” (Charles Nordhoff). Wealthy Cleveland industrialist, Alexander Gunn was quite taken with the simplicity of The Society of Separatists and in 1879 was invited to reside at Zoar— the first outsider to be admitted. “This volume is made up of writings in three little note-books in which, without any attempt at sequence, Mr. Gunn, from time to time, made entries.” In 1898, the Separatists disbanded and sold their property to members, including Gunn. His letters, perhaps more so than the notebooks (which begin in 1889), provide valuable insight into life in a 19th-century commune. This Whitney publication was printed at the De Vinne Press, founded in 1838 and considered “one of the oldest and foremost printing establishments in the country… known throughout its long career for its fine books and printing” (New York Times). “De Vinne was the foremost artist and innovator in American printing in the 19th century and a major force in the revival of the printing art” (Michael Koenig).
An about-fine copy, handsomely bound.