Lot 79: 1842 NOAH WEBSTER ALS Promotes his Bible, Grammar and Dictionary Speller!
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Noah Webster Letter Promotes some of his Best-known Works Including his Bible, Grammar & Dictionary Speller!
NOAH WEBSTER (1758-1843). Historic American Lexicographer and Author.
March 31, 1842-Dated, Autograph Letter Signed, "N Webster," 1 page, measuring 7.75" x 10", New Haven (CT.), fully addressed in his hand on the Integral Address Leaf to the Reverend Samuel Parker in Ithaca, New York, Choice Very Fine. Expected faint mail folds, small loss on Integral Mailing Leaf from seal tear, else very nice. This Letter reads, in full:
"Dear Sir. --- I have lately received from Mrs Parker five dollars on account of books sold, & ten I received last winter. It was not for money that I wrote to you for a statement of books sold; but to ascertain the condition of things. The bearer of this, I expect, will be the Rev. Smith Dayton of the Methodist connection who is very much my friend. He has been many years a teacher & is now engaged for a few days in spreading my books: The Bible, large & small; The Testament, large & small; the History, Manual & Grammar. I suppose he can do nothing for me in Tompkins County, but perhaps he may. You will give him your advice. The Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Herkimer has recommended Sanders' Sp[elling] Book & other books. I am surprised at this, if anything, in these times, could surprise me. The critical state of public affairs & the wretched state of money is all against me, & probably against you, but I see no present remedy. If Mr Dayton shall want any of the books of mine in your possession, please to deliver them to him. We are in comfortable health & Mrs W joins me in love to Mrs Parker & her daughter. Yours with respect, -- (Signed) N Webster."
On the verso, Noah Webster adds a short Postscript, which reads: "I see Cobb's new spelling book is highly praised in the New York Sun. I have not yet seen it. We have a great many such books & all are the best."
In 1801, Webster started working on defining the words that Americans use. He did this because Americans spoke and used words differently than the English, and to help people who lived in different parts of the country to speak and spell the same way.
In his dictionary, Webster used American spellings like "color" instead of the English "colour" and "music" instead of "musick". He also added American words that weren't in English dictionaries like "skunk" and "squash." His first edition, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1806. This book offered brief definitions of about 37,000 words. It took him 22 more years to finish his American Dictionary of the English Language. When he finished in 1828, at the age of 70, Noah's dictionary defined over 65,000 words.
Noah Webster accomplished many things in his life. Not only did he fight for an American language, he also fought for copyright laws, a strong federal government, universal education, and the abolition of slavery. In between fighting for these causes, he wrote textbooks, edited magazines, corresponded with men like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, helped found Amherst College, created his own version of an "American" Bible, raised eight children, and celebrated 54 anniversaries with his beloved wife. When Noah Webster died in 1843, he was an American hero.