[Buckstown, ME]: [A.H. Holland], [1812.]. Sheet size: 17 ¾ x 9.” Woodcut dimensions: 2 ½ x 3 ½.”. The broadside has been professionally and attractively restored, including two primary areas of paper replacement with text and border recreation: upper left corner (about 5 x 4 x 3” triangle) and center (about 2 x 2”). There are a few other small holes with minimal text loss. Laid down on rice paper. Some show-through of ink notations on reverse. Remnants of two mounting hinges on reverse. Item #3733
This is a rare broadside by a remarkably talented 19th century Maine clergyman.
Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847) served as the pastor of the Blue Hill Congregational Church in Maine for 41 years. He was very much a Maine Renaissance man of the first half of the nineteenth century: clergyman, author, poet, surveyor, inventor, artist (portrait and landscape painter), naturalist, teacher, wood engraver and farmer. Fisher is probably best known for his Scripture Animals, an 1834 work that “is a delightful synthesis of his theology, natural observations and skill as a wood engraver,” as described in Sprague’s The Mirror of Maine.
Fisher’s broadside depicts and documents the hanging of Ebenezer Ball on October 13, 1811 for the murder of John Tileston Downes, who was attempting to arrest Ball on suspicion of counterfeiting. Ball, of Robbinston, was the first person hanged in Eastern Maine.
The broadside exists in two editions – the first, printed in late 1811in a total of 400 copies, and this second – and improved – edition printed in early 1812 in a total of 200 copies. Both editions are exceedingly rare. Both editions feature a woodcut of the hanging by Fisher (signed J. Fisher in the lower right of the cut) and a long account in verse of the hanging. This second edition includes an introductory biographical paragraph about Ball and the poor choices that brought him to his unfortunate end.
There is a single example of the first edition noted at OCLC (American Antiquarian Society); this second edition is not found on OCLC. Shaw & Shoemaker note two locations for the first edition (American Antiquarian Society and New York Public Library), but no examples of this edition. Skillin’s Bibliography of Maine Imprints notes only one example of this second edition (in the hands of a private collector).
* Skillin, A Bibliography of Maine Imprints 1785-1820: 12-45.
* Williamson, A Bibliography of the State of Maine: 3357 (not specifying edition)
* Shaw & Shoemaker, American Bibliography: for the 1811 edition: 23230. This 1812 edition not identified.
For a fairly recent Fisher biography: Murphy, Kevin. Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill, Maine: Commerce, Culture and Community on the Eastern Frontier. Amherst & Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010.
For an excellent account of Ebenezer Ball’s crime, trial and execution: Welch, William L., “Hanging Ebenezer Ball” in Maine History, 45-2, June, 2010.