LIBRARY COMPANY OF PHILADELPHIA
A Catalogue of the Books, Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia; to which is prefixed, a short account of the institution, with the charter, laws and regulations
Philadelphia: Zachariah Poulson, Jr, 1789. 8vo. (8 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches). pp. (36) 406, errata in rear, uncut.
Bound to style in 18th-century half calf with contemporary marble paper boards, red morocco label spine gilt.
Catalogue of the famed library founded by Benjamin Franklin, published during the time when it served as the Library of Congress. Notable for categorizing books on Enlightenment principles of Memory, Reason, and Imagination.
An important record of the reading material Americans turned to after ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The 1789 catalogue of the Library Company, also serving at that time as Library of Congress, "was a radical departure from all other early American library catalogs. It listed books by subject, according to a scheme derived from the Diderot Encyclopédie, which divided all knowledge into three categories, Memory, Reason, and Imagination, that is history, arts and sciences, and belles lettres. Library catalogues are not only finding aids but also potentially a means of imposing intellectual order on a diverse collection and constituting it as an organic whole. The Library Company's 1789 catalogue did this brilliantly. Here for the first time the book culture of the old world was reconciled with the homely, quotidian realities of the new" (James Green, Building a Library by Collecting Collections , p. 3). The first catalogue of the Library Company was printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1741. Winans describes the 1789 edition (quoting from an advertisement) as a "social library catalogue: 4000 full author entries, with place and date of publication, numbered accession/shelf numbers, arranged by subject, and then by format within each subject ... donors of books are identified." Includes a 7pp. list of members of the Library (including Benjamin Franklin), its charter and bylaws, as well as an index of authors in the Library's collection ca. 1789.
Evans 22066; Sabin 61785; ESTC, W42494; Winans 131.