Boston. Printed and Published by Greenleaf and Freeman, At their Printing Office, North side of the Market. 1784. Age-darkened and foxed throughout. Disbound, now sewn into a tasteful, antiqued marbled wrapper. Plates have been professionally conserved and are now removed from the Magazine (into which they had been crudely folded and sewn at the time of publication). Margins have been added along the binding edge of both plates. Both plates have light foxing and soiling; the balloon plate also has a quarter-sized area of foxing in the lower right blank margin. Item #3351
The Boston Magazine was one of the first magazines to be published after the American Revolution; it ran from October, 1783 to October, 1786.
This issue contains two notable engravings by John Norman -- one of John Adams and another of a fanciful air balloon. Norman's portrait of John Adams is, indeed, the first American engraving of Adams. It is likely based on an unattributed engraving of Adams that appeared in the August, 1783 issue of the European Magazine (London). Oliver speculates that Norman's portrait may have been "tempered" by his own personal recollections of Adams. The air balloon engraving is also a "first." According to Lewis, three engravings of balloon (all by Norman and all in The Boston Magazine) appeared in American magazines through 1810. The present engraving is the first of these. Norman's balloon engravings sought to illustrate the new phenomenon of manned balloon flights, as popularized by the Montgolfiere brothers in France. (The first manned balloon flight had occurred only several months earlier, in October, 1783.) The wonderful engraving of a balloon, complete with wings and a rudder, is accompanied by a one-page description that explains the intricacies of the proposed air ship.
In addition to the two engravings, this issue of the Magazine contains the historic proclamation of Congress ratifying the Treaty of Paris in Annapolis, Maryland on January 14, 1784 and formally ending the war between the United States and Great Britain.
References: Mott, A History of American Magazines 1741-1850: pp. 28-29. Richardson, A History of Early American Magazines, 1741-1789: pp. 211-227. Lewis: A Guide to Engravings in American Magazines, 1741-1810: p. 23. For the Adams portrait: Oliver, Andrew: Portraits of John and Abigail Adams: p. 22; illustrated at p. 21.