Philadelphia: C. and A. Conrad and Co., et al. 1808. 8vo in-4. xi, [i], 404, 9 pp, including publisher’s advertisements. FIRST EDITION. 2 plates (1 folding). Full calf, edges bumped and Salem Library stenciled onto the back cover, with a small library sticker on the spine; interior browned due to the quality of the paper, an ink stain affecting leaf H3, and loss to leaf Kk3. Salem Library written on the pastedown, with the bookplate of Arnold Thackray below it. Item #14946
First edition of this useful compendium of short articles on various technologies, methods, and experiments related mostly to agriculture and technology. Topics include purifying infected air, cultivating potatoes, steam engines, and, of particular importance, humane chimney sweeping. It is an interesting work not only for the overview of technologies in use during the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, but also in the history of patents and intellectual property, as the editor “was induced to divulge no more of the process than what might be deemed absolutely necessary.”
Interestingly, the last entry in the publisher’s advertisements announces the forthcoming publication of the official account of the Lewis and Clark expedition that took place in 1804-1806. The publication history of this work is notoriously fraught with competition and delays; the first official account, which was originally contracted to Conrad and advertised here, was not in fact finished until 1814 and published by another firm.
Fessenden (1771-1837) was an American author and editor who was primarily interested in agriculture and industry, though he seems to have been more talented at writing about these subjects than making sound investments in them.