Boston. Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews. 1800. Apparent early sheep rebinding with spine cut-out to allow view of original leather gilt label ("Alexander's Dictionary"). Boards and spine are heavily worn and soiled with small spots of worming. All endpapers lacking. Both hinges eroded; text block cracked midway through with several leaves nearly sprung. Foxing, soiling and minor defects throughout text, none of which impedes legibility. Final leaf askew with chipping and heavy soiling. Overall, fair. Item #3561
This is the first English dictionary by an Amerian author, at least according to Littlefield in Early Schools and School-Books of New England. (Others cite the 1798 "School Dictionary" published in New Haven by Samuel Johnson, Jr.) Born in Northfield, Massachusetts in 1755, Caleb Alexander attended Dartmouth College until his senior year in 1776, when he transferred to Yale and graduated in 1777. He earned a second degree at Brown in 1789. Alexander was a clergyman and educator, serving in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. As an educator, he authored several textbooks in the fields of grammar, spelling and classical languages. His dictionary, offered here, claimed "many new words peculiar to the United States, and many words of general use, not found in any other English dictionary." Modern critics tend not to support that claim (though this critic notes that Alexander was thorough in banishing the British "u" from colour, labour and the like; he also eliminated the final "k" in publick, musick, etc.). Whatever its orthographic merits, the volume is a scarce early American imprint, with ESTC noting eight institutional holders. There is one auction record since 1975: Swann, 2004, $1,400. Evans, American Bibliography: 36792.