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An American Dictionary of the English Language...
New York: Published by S. Converse. Printed by Hezekiah Howe, New Haven,, 1828. To which are prefixed, an introductory dissertation on the origin, history and connection of the languages of western Asia and of Europe, and a concise grammar of the English language. 2 volumes, quarto (285 x 220). Contemporary American tree sheep professionally refurbished at joints and corners, spines with three flat broad raised bands ruled in gilt, red and dark green morocco twin labels decorated with gilt leaf-and-rosette roll tools, speckled edges, marbled endpapers. Engraved portrait frontispiece of Webster by A. B. Durand after S. F. B. Morse; printed in triple columns. Bound without the initial advertisement leaf. Label to vol. I misspelled "Dictioary", old marginal dampstaining to frontispiece and title of vol. I (causing a little discolouration and cockling), old repair (utilising part of an old postal enclosure held in place by red sealing wax) at fore-edge of 46 2 (gatherings are numbered throughout) in vol. II, yet a very good set, with the "Additions and Corrections" leaf bound at the end of vol. II. First edition of the dictionary that almost at once became, and has remained, the standard English dictionary in the United States; one of 2,500 copies. Webster wanted to stress the political separation from Britain by the cultivation of a distinct American language, and so, under the influence of his friend Benjamin Franklin, turned his attention to "a reformed mode of spelling" and gave many printed American words their distinctive appearance. "The book marked a definite advance in modern lexicography, as it included many non-literary terms and paid great attention to the language actually spoken. Moreover, his definitions of the meanings of words were accurate and concise (Sir James Murray, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, called him 'a born definer of words') and have for the greater part stood the test of time superbly well. In fact, Webster succeeded in breaking the fetters imposed upon American English by Dr Johnson, to the ultimate benefit of the living languages of both countries" (Printing and the Mind of Man). The frontispiece portrait of Webster is after the likeness by Samuel Morse (1791-1872), who began life as a successful portraitist but who later gave his name to Morse Code, of which he was a co-developer. An attractive copy in an appealing American binding of the period.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2018-01-10           Check availability:      Biblio    


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