KENNETT, White (1660-1728, Bishop of Peterborough). Bibliothecae Americanae Primordia. An Attempt Towards laying the Foundation of an American Library, In several Books, Papers, and Writings, Humbly given to the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. London: J. Churchill, 1713.
4o in half sheets (211 x 158 mm). (Lacking first blank, a bit browned.) Contemporary English calf (rebacked).
"THE EARLIEST EXCLUSIVELY AMERICAN CATALOGUE" (Church), one of only 250 copies printed. White Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough, gave his extensive collection of Americana to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in 1712. A number of the books were later given to the British Museum, or "had been lost or mislaid," according to the auction catalogue prepared for the Society's sale by Sotheby's in 1917.
"In this short catalogue will be found about twenty original tracts relating to Newfoundland; about fifty concerning Virginia; a hundred more of New-England; and so on in proportion to the colonies" (p. xiv). "This, as far as it goes, is the best Catalogue of Books relating to America extant, the titles being copied at full length with the greatest exactness, together with the name of the printer, and the number of pages in each volume...It is rich in English tracts relating to New England" (Rich, quoted in Sabin). It is arranged in chronological order, and enters under their respective dates the sections of such collections as Hakluyt and Ramusio. Included is an extensive index prepared by Rev. Robert Watts (quires 4C to 6M, unpaginated, 112 leaves) listing not only authors (Columbus, Smith, Purchas, etc.) but subjects, i.e. captivity, Harvard, hydrography, Indians, New England, the Northwest Passage, persecution, ship wrecks, etc. With the exception of Pinelo's Epitome de la biblioteca oriental i occidental (1629), Kennett's is the first printed catalogue of books relating to America. VERY RARE: only two copies are found in auction records since 1975. An account of the library is given in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings, vol. 20 (1883). Alden & Landis 713/104; Church 856; JCB II, 178; Sabin 37447.