Knapp, Samuel L. FEMALE BIOGRAPHY: CONTAINING NOTICES OF DISTINGUISHED WOMEN, IN DIFFERENT NATIONS AND AGES. BY SAMUEL L. KNAPP, New York: Published by J. Carpenter, — Clinton Hall, Baltimore, — Phoenix, Wood & Co. MDCCCXXXXIV (1834). Stereotyped by Francis F. Ripley. First edition in the original binding of marbled boards with a hand-lettered green cloth spine. [xii; 501 pages; a Postscript is printed on the verso of p. 501; an unpaginated Table of Contents follows the Postscript] Bound in 8+4, with the pages untrimmed, just as they were after folding. Traces remain where labels were removed from the spine. The initial blank has been pasted to the original green endpaper, with mirror traces of printing showing through. The Erasmus Hall High School Library stamp on the title page has a line through it and the initial, “JE” or “JC.” The card pocket is pasted down on the inside back cover. Slight foxing on a few pages, but this is generally a bright tight copy.
The lives of 172 distinguished women from around the world and from different eras are listed in alphabetic order to note their achievements. Citing Jewish and Islamic history as protective of the rights of women, Knapp cast a wide net and writes an extraordinary early advocacy for women’s independence in his introduction. For Mary, George Washington’s mother, Knapp quotes Mrs. Sigourney’s poetic tribute and closes his book “with the mother of the great and the brave.” For Jane Austen, “a highly sensible and gifted novelist.” “The praise-worthy object of Miss Austen, in all her works was to advocate the superiority of sound principles, unsophisticated manners, and undesigning rectitude, to more splendid and artificial pretensions; and within the sphere of her delineation, she eminently succeded.” Other women included by Samuel Knapp were: Anne Bradstreet; Joan of Arc; Abigail Adams; Anne Boleyn; Catherine de Medicis; and, Elizabeth I of England. An image with the full listing of 176 names is found below.
This copy was de-accessioned from the legendary Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn with Peter Maverick’s engraved bookplate, ca. 1780, pasted down on the inside front cover, just below the bookseller’s tag for Owen Phelan’s “Cheap Book Store and Dramatic Repository at 27 Chatham Street, N Y. opposite Chambers Street.”
A silversmith and an engraver, Peter Rushton Maverick (1755 -1811) emigrated to America, where he settled in New York before the American revolution, marrying in New York in 1772. Maverick’s engraving shop was located on Liberty Street (formerly No. 3, Crown Street) at Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan in 1784. It is believed to have been on Dey (formerly Batteau) Street in 1775. A fine example of copper plate engraving, this bookplate is simply signed, “Maverick, Sculpt. New York.” With the motto “Fortiter Ascende” under an image depicting two sister temples of learning with the mottoes “Famae Sacrum” and “Virtuti Sacrum” engraved on their respective facades above a rocky climb, with a goddess leading a young student up the steep incline. Below the image is a second garlanded cartouche with “Erasmus Hall Library No.” This bookplate measures 16.9 cm x 9.5 cm. The call number and shelf mark of this book in which this plate was used remain on the lower cartouche. Erasmus Hall is one of the most storied educational institutions in New York history, boasting centuries of distinguished alumni.