A gem from the American Antiquarian Society…

August 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful  exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).

The Chess Monthly172. “The Chess Monthly“, New York, February, 1859

It has been common practice when binding periodicals — whether by publishers in order to sell cumulative volumes, or by libraries and private owners for purposes of convenience and preservation — to remove the outer wrappers and advertisement leaves from individual issues, leaving only the main body of text. However, periodical wrappers and advertisement leaves often contain important material which scholars (and bibliographers) are increasingly finding vital to their research. In recent years AAS has made it a priority to collect early American periodical issues with wrappers intact, even going so far as to acquire second, wrappered copies to complement a set bound without wrappers. In many instances, wrappered copies prove to be exceptionally rare survivals.

This issue of The Chess Monthly is a good example. The journal’s editor was Daniel W. Fiske (1831-1904), then chess champion of the New York Chess Club and later Cornell University’s first librarian. For a time, American chess prodigy and unofficial world champion Paul Morphy (1837-1884) held the title of co-editor, lending the magazine his marquee name. Only on the wrappers, however, are their editorial roles mentioned. The wrappers also contain publication information not available elsewhere, an advertisement for a set of Morphy- endorsed chessmen made of cast iron and — perhaps most important of all — the answers to chess problems published in the previous issue.