“the first attempt at a comprehensive dictionary of Americanisms” - presentation copy with annotations
BARTLETT, JOHN RUSSELL. Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases, Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States
New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1848
xxvii, 412 pp. Original brown cloth, recased with spine ends restored. Light marginal stain. A handsome copy.
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY inscribed and signed by Bartlett to S. A. Hammett in the year of publication, with a presentation letter and with Hammett’s copious annotations.
This is one of the first great books devoted to American English. Mencken called it “the first attempt at a comprehensive dictionary of Americanisms.” This fascinating dictionary incudes a very early entry on the game of poker (“a favorite game of cards among Southern gamblers”).
Bartlett was one of the great American antiquarians and bibliographers of the nineteenth century. The author’s most famous work, the Dictionary went through four editions. Bartlett dedicated the last decades of his life to assisting the pioneering collector John Carter Brown.
Provenance: inscribed by Bartlett to Samuel Adams Hammett. Hammett lived in Texas in the 1830s and 1840s, and in 1848 he returned to New York where he wrote for a number of leading magazines. He wrote several works of fiction about the southwest, and he “was particularly successful in reporting frontier and Yankee idiom” (DAB). Tipped in as an interesting 1848 letter from Bartlett to Hammett thanking the recipient for his contributions to the Dictionary, noting, “I am quite deficient in South-Western words and phrases,” and presenting this copy of the book. Hammett has annotated the book extensively in pencil.