Item #3775 The Wonderful Advantages of Drunkenness, Stated in Maxims Worth Remembering.

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The Wonderful Advantages of Drunkenness, Stated in Maxims Worth Remembering.

New York: The American Tract Society, [ca. 1826]. D. Fanshaw, printer. Illustrated broadside, 14.25” x 8.75” plus margins; title and two columns of text below two wood engravings, ornamental border. CONDITION: Good, three damp-stains, foxing, old folds.

A rare broadside printing a temperance text that also appeared in pamphlet form, illustrated with two wood engravings depicting the evils of drink.

Printed in England and Scotland in the 1820s, the pamphlet version of The Wonderful Advantages of Drunkenness appeared in Boston as early as 1823, and was published by the American Tract Society in New York in 1826. This broadside printing likely appeared at the same time or shortly thereafter. Its twenty-nine maxims become increasingly severe, beginning with “If you wish to be always thirsty, be a Drunkard ; for the oftener and more you drink, the oftener and more thirsty you will be” and ending with “if you are determined to be utterly destroyed, in estate, body, and soul, be a Drunkard ; and you will soon know that it is impossible to adopt a more effectual means to accomplish your—END.” The column on the right offers more warnings and condemnations, a quote from Francis Bacon, and several passages from the Bible. The wood engravings show two “wonderful” scenes of drunkenness: a man holding a bottle in one hand and raising a wooden stool in the other, about to hurl it at his wife and children, who are cowering on the other side of the disarrayed dining room; and a wife, one hand to her desperate forehead, sheltering several hungry children while her husband lies unconscious near an empty plate on the floor.

Originally founded in 1814 as the New England Religious Tract Society, by the time this broadside was published the American Tract Society comprised both the Boston-based organization of that name and what had been known as the New-York Religious Tract Society. The organizations would merge and split several times, the major rift coming in 1859 over whether or not to publish on “the sin of slavery” (Wolfe).

Daniel Fanshaw (1789–1860) was born in New York and apprenticed to David and George Bruce, printers and typefounders who had introduced the stereotyping process to America, a portion of whose printing business he eventually purchased. “Devoutly religious and somewhat eccentric, Fanshaw specialized in the increasingly lucrative religious book market,” and was the first in New York to take advantage of the new technology of steam powered presses (Wosh, p. 22). He was the first printer for the American Bible Society, and was a longtime printer for the American Tract Society as well, until his later refusal to adopt newer technologies lost him both contracts in the mid 1840s. He was a founder of the New York Typographical Society.

Not in OCLC; one held at the University of Chicago.

REFERENCES: Wolfe, S. J. “Dating American Tract Society Publications Through 1876 from External Evidences: A Series of Tables,” American Antiquarian Society online; Wosh, Peter J. Spreading the Word: The Bible Business in Nineteenth-Century America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1994).

Item #3775


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