Barre, Massachusetts: Imprint Society, 1970. 1st Edition Thus. 2 vols., octavo, publisher's brown cloth, spines gilt, butterscotch endpapers, original printed paperboard slipcase.
"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." Two-volume facsimile of the 18th-century almanac written and published by American statesman, inventor and founding father Benjamin Franklin between 1733 and 1758, reproduced with an introduction by Whitfield J. Bell, Jr. Almanacs were a popular literary genre in colonial America, generally containing a mix of puzzles and entertainment such as serialized news stories of fictional characters, calendars, sayings and predictions, weather forecasts, and household tips. Franklin’s almanacs, written through the comic frame of "Poor Richard" and his wife Bridget, are remembered for their adroit wordplay and the humorous phrases that have left their mark on vernacular American English. The columns contain aphorisms and proverbs that center mainly on morality and virtue, but contain a level of satirical cynicism. Richard’s name began as Richard Saunders, taken from a popular 17th-century London almanac, and later became "Poor Richard," a name borrowed from the author Jonathan Swift. Print runs reached 10,000 a year, an exceptionally high number for a colonial era publication. Volume I includes a woodcut portrait of Franklin by Sidney Chafetz, while the portrait in volume II originally appeared as a frontispiece in Benjamin Vaughan’s edition of Franklin’s Political, Miscellaneous and Philosophical Pieces (1779) – an engraving by an unknown artist after a portrait medallion at Sevres, chosen by Vaughan because it looked the most like Franklin. (Franklin’s sister Jane Mecom praised its likeness upon being gifted the book.) No dust jackets, as issued. Books fine, some rubbing and wear to extremities of otherwise very good slipcase. Item #3502