12 June 2008
WILSON, James (1742-1798), Signer (Pennsylvania). ADDISON, Joseph and Richard STEELE. The Spectator. Volume the Sixth. London: Jacob and Richard Tonson, 1757.
8o (7 7/8 x 4¾ in). Vol. 6 (only, of 8). Engraved vignette on titlepage. (Some stains to a few leaves). Contemporary speckled sheep, covers gilt-ruled, spine gilt with red morocco gilt-lettered label. (Board edges a bit darkened, joints cracked). Quarter morocco gilt protective slipcase.
SIGNER JAMES WILSON'S COPY OF AN ENGLISH JOURNALISTIC CLASSIC. Boldly signed "James Wilson" in ink in blank portion of title. Tonson's 1757 complete edition of the Spectator, was intended as a deluxe typographical production. Finely printed on heavy paper and embellished with vignettes by skilled engravers, it is a reflection of the enduring public regard for Addison and Steele's 555 daily papers (published from March 1711 to December 1712; 80 issues added in 1714). Wilson, educated in Scotland before emigrating to the U.S., taught Latin and English literature at the College of Philadelphia before taking up a legal career and becoming involved in the independence movement. In light of his own politics, Wilson no doubt appreciated the Whig political orientation of The Spectator. He was named Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Washington in 1789. No other book from Wilson's library has been offered at auction since 1982.
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