“A LITERARY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE”: EARLY EDITION OF WEBSTER’S AMERICAN SPELLING BOOK
WEBSTER, Noah. The American Spelling Book: Containing the Rudiments of the English Language. For the Use of Schools in the United States… Boston: West, Richardson and Lord, 1823. Octavo, modern full brown leatherette. $600.
Early edition of Webster’s American Spelling Book, responsible for the standardization of spelling in the United States. Illustrated with eight charming woodcuts depicting various fables.
Pioneering American philologist Noah Webster "prepared an elementary spelling book in 1782, publishing it the next year as the first part of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The Institute was completed with a grammar (1784) and a reader (1785); all three books were written for the use of school children… The introduction of his speller represents… a literary Declaration of Independence… The first edition of 5000 copies of Webster's speller was exhausted in little more than a year, and in revised editions, under various titles, the book continued to be issued well into the twentieth century. The wide and long use of Webster's spellers had much to do with the standardization of spelling and, to a less degree, of pronunciation in the United States along lines differing somewhat from those that prevailed in the mother country" (DAB). Illustrated with several lovely woodcuts. Contemporary owner inscription dated December 4, 1825.
Light embrowning to text, as usual, scattered faint marginal dampstaining; leaves occasionally trimmed a bit close, affecting page numbers and a few letters of running headlines. An extremely good copy.