Translate

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Austin G. Putnam - The Liberty Tree Billhead


Austin G. Putnam was a bookseller, stationer, and bookbinder, as well as a manufacturer of blank books, according to this 1858 billhead. He practiced his trade at 456 Washington (corner of Essex), in Boston.


I had hoped to make a connection to the G.P. Putnam & Sons publishing family that got started in New York in 1838 as a bookselling concern, but no luck yet. There may not be any connection, or it may be very distant. So far as I know, there are no close ties between the two Putnams.

As for Austin G. Putnam, he's proving to be an elusive historical figure, but a snapshot of his business history is contained in this billhead from February 16, 1858. On this day, he completed his transaction with Mr. Gilmore for binding what looks like a 12-volume set of a story book. I can't make out the first word in the title. It looks like he charged $4.00 for that good bit of work. Twelve volumes had to have taken some time.


What I did find was a symbol of significant American history at the origins of the country's rebellious stand for independence. The striking feature of this billhead is Putnam's choice for a logo--the tree with "Law and Order" across the roots and "Liberty 1765" across the top. What does all that mean?


Less than a hundred years prior to the date of this billhead, the British Crown sought to raise revenue to cover its rising debt and the cost of maintaining troops in the Colonies. The Stamp Act of 1765 was a means of doing so. The act required the purchase of a tax stamp for transactions involving all printed matter, from newspapers to legal documents and bills of lading for shipping.

The reaction of the colonists, to say the least, was not very favorable. The opposition movement adopted the name Sons of Liberty and united social classes across the colonies. The Boston chapter, led by Samuel Adams, is said to have had its meetings under the Liberty Tree, which is represented by the illustration on the Putnam billhead.

So Liberty and 1765 become obvious with their connection to the Stamp Act of 1765. The words "Law and Order" beneath the tree possibly signify the need for restraint from mob violence during protest. That line was crossed at times by members of the Sons of Liberty with rioting, looting, and other acts of violence, including destruction of personal property and the ransacking of the Massachusetts Governor's house (Thomas Hutchinson).

The old elm tree in Boston Commons, which was the Liberty Tree, was cut down by British soldiers occupying Boston on the eve of the American Revolution. Could that be the sawed-off limb on the left side of the trunk in the illustration? I thought that a curious detail to include in the graphic until I read about the tree being chopped down.

I also wondered why Putnam would use a symbol from the American Revolution era for his business in 1858. Perhaps his book shop was located near where the Liberty Tree stood. I thought also about his genealogy, that maybe there was some proud heritage dating back to those times. There is no shortage of Putnam names for leadership during the Revolutionary War--General Israel Putnam and General Rufus Putnam are the most prominent. Could one or both have been related to the bookbinder of this 1858 billhead? Could one have been a grandfather or great-grandfather?

Whatever the reason for using the Liberty Tree on his company paper, Austin G. Putnam felt strongly enough about it to identify his business with it and incorporate it into his correspondence.

Ironically, another stamp tax act, the Revenue Act of 1862 was enacted by the U.S. government a few years after the date of this billhead, which required tax stamps on, among other things, various paper items. Revenue was needed to help finance the Civil War. See my post on a related piece of ephemera.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Labels

A.S. Burbank (1) Abel Tompkins (1) abraham lincoln (2) ad booklets (1) ad card (2) ad cover (1) ad covers (12) advertising (1) Africa (1) African American (1) Alabama (1) alexandria virginia (1) Alfred Lorentz (2) Alfred Sutro (1) Allentown PA (1) Amalfi (1) american antiquarian society (2) American Book Company (1) American Bookbinders Museum (1) American literature (1) Americana (1) Andrew Hoyem (1) Andy Rooney (1) announcement card (1) announcement cards (1) announcements (1) Anthony Newnham (1) antiquarian book (1) Aoki (1) Arion Press (1) Arthur H. Chase (1) astronaut (1) auction catalogs (1) Australia (1) author (1) author promo (1) authors (1) autographs (1) automobiles (1) Baghdad (1) Baltimore (1) bank drafts (1) Barcelona (1) baseball writer (1) Beatles (1) Berlin (1) Bertha Mahoney (1) Bertha Mahony (1) bibliately (1) bibliomania (1) bibliophilately (1) bibliophiles (4) billhead (6) billheads (4) Billie Burke (1) Birchall's Bookstore (1) Birmingham (1) black culture (1) blotters (1) Bob Dylan (1) Boernicke and Tafel (1) book (2) book caravan (1) Book Club of California (1) book collecting (1) book collector (1) book collectors (3) book design (1) book fairs (2) Book of Kells (1) book shop label (1) book shop labels (1) book shops (15) book signing (1) book store (2) book stores (1) bookbinder (2) bookbinder tickets (2) bookcards (1) booklets (1) bookmark (3) bookmarks (2) bookmobiles (5) Bookplate (4) bookplate design (1) bookplates (15) books (6) bookseller (18) bookseller circus books Maine (1) bookseller labels (5) bookseller labels tickets (1) bookseller reviews (1) booksellers (45) Booksellers' League of New York (1) bookshop (1) Bookshop for Boys and Girls (1) bookstore (6) bookstores (8) boston (11) bottle (1) bouquinistes (1) brattle (1) broadside (2) brochure (1) brochures (1) Brooklyn (1) Bruce Rogers (1) business cards (1) button chaser (1) Buzz Aldrin (2) calendars (1) California (1) Canada (2) cancer medical bookplate (1) catalog (1) catalogs (4) catalogues (2) Catholic books (1) Charles C. Soule (1) Charles Hoy Fort (1) charleston (1) Cherokee (1) children's literature (1) Christmas (1) chromolithograph plate (1) cigarettes (1) Civil War (3) Classic Motorbooks (1) Clayburgh (1) Clements Library (1) collectors (1) collectors' institute (1) Confederate (1) Confederate Home for Veterans (1) Connecticut (1) Cooperstown (1) Cornhill (1) Cosmic Aeroplane (1) covers (1) Croatia (1) Cuba (1) D. Lothrop (1) D. Lothrop and Co. (1) Dartmouth (1) Decatur Illinois (1) Declaration of Independence (1) Dedham Massacusetts (1) Denver (1) Detroit (1) DF Wallace (1) Dial (1) diary (1) Dickensiana (1) die-cut (1) digital ephemera (2) Doane (1) dolls (1) Donohue & Henneberry (1) drug store (1) Dublin (1) Dubrovnik (1) Durrie and; Peck (1) dust jacket (1) Dutch (1) Dutch Booksellers Association (1) dutton (1) Ed Sullivan (1) Emil Prass (1) encino press (3) engraving (1) ephemera (3) Ernest Dawson (1) Eugene O'Neill (1) Eurkea Bazaar (1) European history (1) Evelyn Waugh (1) ex libris (2) exhibits (2) expositions (1) Felix Cunha (1) feria del libro (1) fine printing (1) Firenza (1) Firenze (1) Florence (1) flyaways (1) flyers (1) Fortean Society (1) Foyles (2) France (2) Francis Scott Key (1) Friedrich Furchheim (1) G. Wyman (1) George Doll (1) German (1) Germany (1) GF Warfield (1) ghosts (1) Goodspeed's (2) Goodspeed's Book Shop (1) Grabhorn Press (1) graphic design (1) Greenaway House (1) Greenwich Village (1) greeting cards (1) Haines and Essick (1) Haiti (1) hand fans (1) Hans P. Kraus (1) Hartford (1) Hartford Connecticut (1) Harvard Library (1) haunted (1) headshop (1) Herbert Fahey (1) Herbert Faulkner West (1) Holmes Book Company (1) holt and rinehart (1) homeopathy (1) Horace Mann (1) Horn Book Magazine (1) Houghton Mifflin (1) Houston (4) Hudson's (1) Iceland (1) illuminated manuscripts (1) illustrations (1) illustrators (1) IMBS (1) indiana (1) instructions (1) International Exhibit 1862 (1) International Miniature Book Society (1) invoice (1) Iraq (1) isaiah thomas (2) Italy (2) J.F. Collins (1) J.J. Lankes (1) Jack Kerouac (1) Jacqueline Kennedy (1) James Hustler (1) James Walker (1) Japanese paper (1) Jean Frey (1) jerome holtzman (1) JJ Lankes (1) JK Gill Company (1) John Chapman (1) John Ford Esq. (1) John Langdon Sibley (1) John Love Bookseller England 1700s Goodspeed William Wadd (1) John Penington (1) John Rothensteiner (1) John W. Park (1) Johnny Appleseed (1) Jones' Bookstore (1) JR Osgood (1) Justin Brierly (1) Justin Brierly Denver Neal Cassady Jack Kerouac Beat Generation (1) Katherine Goddard (1) Ketterlinus (1) Kitemaug (1) Knoxville (1) label (1) law books (2) LBJ (1) Leipzig (2) Leona Rostenberg (1) letter (3) letterhead (2) letters (5) Levi K. Fuller (1) librarian (2) librarians (2) libraries (9) library (1) library accessions list (1) library catalogs (2) Little Brown (1) Lloyd Adams Noble (1) London (1) Longfellow (1) Los Angeles (2) Lowman and Hanford (1) lunar landing (1) Macedonia (1) Macmillan (1) Magazine ads (2) Maine (1) Malta (1) manuscript (1) Marian Cutter (1) Mark Twain (1) martyr (1) massachusetts (1) Mayfair Bookshop (1) McGirr's (1) medical (1) Menno Hertzberger (1) menus (1) Michigan (1) Michigan history (2) miniature books (2) Minneapolis (1) Minnesota (1) motorsports (1) Mrs. Paul's Kitchens (1) Mundelein (1) Museum of Printing History (1) Naples (1) Napoli (1) National Library Association (1) Neal Cassady (1) Nederlandse Boekverkopersbond (1) Nevada (1) New Hampshire (2) New Mexico (1) New Orleans (1) New York (7) New York Public Library (1) newsletters (2) Nice (1) Niles Michigan (1) nuns (1) Oakland (2) Oklahoma (1) Olympia Dukakis (1) Ontario (1) opera (1) Oregon (1) Ottawa (1) P. Garrett & Co. (1) pamphlets (1) Paris (1) Patriot (1) patriotic (1) Penguin Book Shop (1) Penn Letter Book (1) Pennsylvania (1) Philadelphia (5) Philip Greely Brown (1) photos (1) Pilgrim Bookshop (1) Pilgrims (1) playbill (1) Plymouth (1) poets (1) Poland (1) post card (2) post cards (1) postal covers (1) postal history (1) postcards (5) Postcards Leipzig Publishers Booksellers Buchhändlerbörse (1) President Kennedy (1) President Truman (1) press photos (1) press release (1) Princeton (1) print announcements (1) printer (4) printers (5) Printing (1) printing arts (2) program (1) promotional letters (1) promotional photo (1) prospectus (1) prospectuses (2) Providence (1) publisher (6) publisher insert (1) publishers (21) publishers booksellers encyclopedias dictionaries (1) publishers Japan (1) Publishing (1) Puerto Rico (1) Ransom Center (1) Rare Bibles (1) rare books (1) Rasmussen (1) Raymer's (2) Raymond Carver (1) reading (1) receipt (1) receipts (1) Reed Books (1) review copy (1) review slips (1) Rhode Island (1) Ricardo Veloso (1) Rice Institute (1) Richter (1) riverrun bookshop (1) Robert Frost (1) rodeo (1) roger beacham (1) Rose Wilder Lane (1) Roxburghe Club (2) Rumball-Petre (1) Russia (1) sales receipts (1) sales rep (1) Salt Lake City (1) Samuel Hooper Hooper (1) San Diego (1) San Francisco (7) Santa Fe (1) Saunders (1) Sausalito (1) Schomburg (1) school (1) Schulte's Book Store (4) Schumann-Heink (1) Scofield Thayer (1) Seattle (2) ships (1) Sidney L. Smith (1) Sidney S. Rider (1) Sierra Leone (1) Sir Thomas Phillipps (1) small presses (1) Society of Lincoln's Inn (1) south carolina (1) south dakota (1) Southwest (1) Spain (2) spelling (1) Springfield Illinois (1) St. Paul (1) stamps (1) Star-Spangled Banner (1) statements (1) stationers (3) Stefan Lorant (1) Sun Iron Building (1) swap cards (1) Switzerland (1) teaching (1) Tennessee (1) Texas (4) Thanksgiving (1) Thatcher (1) The Netherlands (1) The Tides (1) The Virginian (1) Theodore Dreiser (1) Tibbals (1) tickets (2) Ticknor (2) Tiffany Thayer (1) trade card (2) trade cards (6) trading cards (1) trailers (1) Treves. Florence (1) Trinity College (1) typewriters (1) typography (1) Universalists (1) University of Delaware Library (1) University of Michigan (2) University of Texas (1) university of texas-pan american (1) university presses (1) Utah (1) valentines (1) Valletta (1) Vermont (1) W.E. Osborne (1) W.I. Whiting (1) W.M. Morrison (1) War of 1812 (1) Waring (1) Waterbury (1) Western Americana (1) Westerns (1) Wiener Library (1) william and barbara holman collection. book arts (2) William Briggs (1) William Goddard (1) william r. holman (5) wire photos (2) Wisconsin (1) Wister (1) Witkower's (1) wittliff (3) woodcuts (1) Wooster Ohio (1) worcester (1) World War II (1) writers (1) Zagreb (1) Zahm (1)
 
Creative Commons License
Bibliophemera by Chuck Whiting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.