[REDE, Leman Thomas (1754/55 - 1810)]
Bibliotheca Americana; or, a chronological catalogue of the most curious and interesting books, pamphlets, state papers, &c. upon the subject of North and South America, from the earliest period to the present, in print and manuscript ... with an introductory discourse on the present state of literature in those countries
London: printed for J. Debrett, J. Sewell, R. Baldwin & J. Bew and E. Harlowe, 1789. Quarto. ,271pp.
19th-century three-quarter morocco and marbled boards, spine gilt. Corners worn, spine rubbed. Old stamp on titlepage with bleedthrough to first few leaves, some tanning, occasional fox marks.
First edition of this important work on early printed and manuscript Americana, with a valuable introductory essay.
This anonymous work has in the past been ascribed variously to "[Alexander] Dalrymple, Homer, Long, and Reid" (Church), but is now known to have been written by the miscellaneous writer Leman Thomas Rede, a student of the Middle Temple (cf. Stuart C. Sherman The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 4, No. 3 (Jul., 1947), pp. 332-349). According to the title Rede compiled the work from the holdings of the British Museum "and the most celebrated public and private libraries, reviews, catalogues, &c.". It is of particular value as it includes manuscript material in addition to printed works, and also for the 17pp. "Introductory Discourse on the State of Literature in North and South America," which includes musings on the benefits of freedom of the press to the development of "Genius," as well as interesting details of bookselling in the United States. The demand was for small format works on practical matters; imported books were generally cheaper than home-produced editions (even with the hefty premiums that booksellers were able to place on the imports) because of the cost of materials and printers' wages.
Church 1235; Sabin 5198.