The newly appointed printer, Samuel Green, having had no experience in his new trade, was at once confronted with the work of producing a small book that involved some problems not easily solved by a novice. The Platform itself required four gatherings of eight pages each. The Preface was too long to be contained within one such gathering. An additional fold containing four pages was therefore placed on the outside of the eight pages to result in a twelve-page gathering. The finished book thus was made up of one twelve and four eights, or forty-four pages in all. Consider now the additional fold mentioned above, the first page of which was the title page. The second is its verso, which is blank. The third and fourth are pages 9 and 10 of the Preface. The title page and its verso are not numbered, hence the paging which follows is from 1 to 10, making twelve pages in all.
Samuel Green figured and refigured as to just what his method of printing was to be. Our problem is to determine what he actually did. The eight-page gatherings of the Platform itself had been quite simple. In each case four pages were printed on white sheets. Then the pile was turned over and four more were printed on the reverse side. The sheet was then folded twice to form an eight-page gathering. But, the question is, how did he print the four outside pages of the twelve-page Preface? He may have cut sheets of paper in half and printed two pages on one side, turned the pile over, and printed the other side, requiring five hundred impressions for each side. Or, he may have printed all four pages on one side (250 impressions), turned the pile over and printed the same four pages on the other side, after which the sheets were cut in half. This latter is called half-sheet imposition, and it was the method employed by Samuel Green. Figure 1 shows the imposition of the first side, Figure 2 of the second side.
As was noted earlier, nine copies of A Platform of Church Discipline are known to exist today. These represent, by slight differences, four stages in the printing of the four-page fold comprising title page and pages 9 and 10. The differences or variants may be described briefly.
State 1. About 50 sheets were printed on the first side before any alterations were made in the type.
State 2. The lower border is straightened (only to become out of alignment again in the next two states). In “Psal: 84 1” the period after “84” has dropped out. About 50 sheets were printed thus.
State 3. The “G” in “Gathered” (line 3 from the top) has been changed to a “swash” G. In the center of the page, “Eight” appears without its final h. In the first line of Bible quotations, “Tabernacles” replaces “Tabernacle.” “Printed by S.G. at Cambridge in New England” replaces “Printed at Cambridge by S.G. in New England.” On page 9, “in” is corrected from “im”. About 150 impressions were made thus before the sheets were turned over; about 50 additional impressions were then made before one final alteration.
State 4. On page 9, “contribute” was corrected from “crntrbute.” The present ownership of the nine known existing copies and the states which they represent are as follows:
John Carter Brown Library
Mr. Thomas W. Streeter
Henry E. Huntington Library
Mr. William H. Scheide
University of Virginia Library
American Antiquarian Society
William L. Clements Library
New York Public Library
Anyone who has seen the book has been apt to inquire about other copies, how many there are, where they are located, what happened to them during three hundred years. Book collectors have a nice word for this, provenance. Most of the nine copies had found their way to England. Henry Stevens, the London book dealer, was the instrument by which they were returned to America. Copies on this side of the Atlantic experienced steady usage and were discarded in favor of new editions. Whatever other causes of disappearance of the five hundred originally printed only these few are left until another is rescued from some unexpected lodging place. The following paragraphs tell the story of each one with as complete data as we have discovered.
American Antiquarian Society Copy
Owned by Isaiah Thomas this copy has his bookplate on a blank page facing the title page. “I. Mather” was inscribed on the title page by Increase Mather. There is little doubt but that Isaiah Thomas purchased the Platform “in 1814 when he acquired what he termed the remains of the old library of the Mathers which had belonged to Drs. Increase and Samuel Mather.” (Cannon p. 55) This copy has been removed from a pamphlet volume and is kept in a protecting case. It is about as near to original condition as one might hope to find. The binding edge contains the usual evidences of the pamphlet volume from which it was taken. The paper, tanned by age, seems rougher and thicker than that of other copies examined. One page has a small hole which takes away parts of a few words, the sole blemish. The margins are wide. Quite possibly it is in its original state, the pamphlets possibly having been bound without trimming. There is a probability that this was the the author’s copy and that Increase Mather received it as an inheritance from his father, Richard Mather.
John Carter Brown Copy
This copy was purchased in the year 1846 and was among the first group of books acquired from Henry Stevens of London, having earlier been in the Henri Ternaux-Compans collection. Since it is not listed in the Ternaux catalogue of 1837, it was thus quite probably acquired by him subsequent to that date. More than likely it was amongthe books sold in 1844 when a large part of the Henri Ternaux library was bought by Obadiah Rich, who then sold the books to Henry Stevens. The title page has been trimmed to the ornamental border and mounted. Because of the imprint and other factors described elsewhere this copy is one of two having title pages that differ from the other seven. The book has marble end leaves, the bookplate and autograph of John Carter Brown. The binding is of dark tan calf on the spine of which is printed, “Platform of Church Discipline. Camb. N.E. 1649.” On the front and back cover is a gold stamped ram’s head crest under which are the two initials “H.T.,” a description that fits many other volumes of the Ternaux library.
William L. Clements Library Copy
“Small quarto; elegantly bound in grossgrained green levant morocco superextra, gilt back and edges, paneled, ornamented sides, inside gilt borders, by W. Pratt. A beautiful copy of the first edition with wide margins.” “Laid in is an attachment warrant in the autograph of Samuel Green, with his signature dated March 7, 1664.” These quotations have been taken from the Brayton Ives sale catalogue of 1891. The attachment warrant containing Samuel Green’s signature is no longer with this copy. It is now in the possession of Mr. Thomas W. Streeter. Provenance dates back to the Brinley sale in 1879, when the book was sold to Mr. Brayton Ives for $155. Twelve years later it was purchased by Sumner Hollingsworth who paid $210. Later the Hollingsworth collection became the property of Goodspeed’s Book Shop, Boston. The next sale did not occur until 1927, when Thomas W. Streeter purchased it for $7500. In 1933 it was sold to Lathrop C. Harper and then to Tracy W. McGregor, who presented it to Clements Library in September, 1938. This final sale was for $11,500. In these changes of ownership two developments are to be noted, the increase in values in the twentieth century and the realization of the historic importance of the Cambridge Platform.
Congregational Library Copy
Dr. Isaac Langworthy, Librarian of the Congregational Library, purchased this copy at the Brinley sale. It is bound in red levant morocco, full gilt back, sides filleted, and inside borders. Some repairs were made with great skill, particularly to the title page. The edges have been trimmed, narrowing the margins. It is the second of the two Brinley copies. Since A Platform of Church Discipline is the fundamental document of Congregational polity, it is regarded as the most precious possession in the collection of the Congregational Library. The marbled end leaves are of a predominantly red color harmonizing with the cover. Stamped in the lower inside border is the binder’s mark “Bound by W. Pratt for H. Stevens, 1860,” which was just one hundred years ago. This indicates that several copies had passed through the hands of Henry Stevens. John Carter Brown and James Lenox were given opportunity to buy from him before others. Brinley also had an agreement with Stevens. Since in 1860 both Brown and Lenox possessed copies, there is little doubt but that Brinley obtained this copy from Stevens. The inside cover has a small blue label reading “Brinley. 734.” Laid in on the first binder’s page verso also is a printed bibliographical description taken from a Dodd, Mead and Company catalogue of April, 1908, advertising a similar copy of the Platform for $1000. This refers, probably, to the Scheide copy. A binder’s page at the back has a notation in ink “cost Cong’l Library $52.50 Mch 20/79.”
Henry E. Huntington Library Copy
This book came to the Huntington Library in the famous sale of the entire E. D. Church collection. It was bound by F. Bedford in blue crushed levant morocco, and is an immaculate copy. It has the Church ex libris, number 491. The paper is smooth and fairly thin, probably washed at the time of binding. The paper of signature D is slightly heavier. The inking was not well applied for some pages, but all are quite readable; for most the printing is remarkably sharp. Two small holes in the last leaf have been mended. The name “Wh. Kennett” is written on the title page at the right side of the center. This is, no doubt, the signature of Bishop White Kennett (1660-1728). Except for the copy of the American Antiquarian Society this one has an older history of ownership than any other. While a succession of owners is missing in our data, it is probable that a London bookseller obtained it from the Kennett collection and sold it to Mr. Church. The Dictionary of National Biography states, “In order to advance the interests of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Kennett made a collection of books, charts, maps, and documents, with the intention of composing a ‘History of the Propagation of Christianity in the English-American Colonies,’ and on the relinquishment of that project he presented his collections to the corporation, and printed a catalogue entitled ‘Bibliothecae Americanae Primordia,’ London, 1713.” In the Kennett catalogue the Platform is listed on page 97. In the Church catalogue the abbreviation “Wh.” for “White” is mistakenly transcribed as “Ioh.”
New York Public Library Copy
Bound in levant green morocco the cover is plain with a simple gold border, the binding by F. Bedford for H. Stevens. The inside cover has the small Lenox Library bookplate, the book having been one of the collection of Mr. James Lenox. The paper of the Platform is characteristically smooth and fairly thin. As it was run through the press the type was well inked so that this copy is darker and more clearly printed than any other examined. The leaves are in mint condition as if the book had never been used. It is strange, therefore, that the last leaf containing the “Contents” is lacking, replaced, however, with a positive photostat from the JCB copy. The binder’s blank page opposite the inside front cover has a notation entered by Mr. Lenox referring to the 1846 prospectus for Obadiah Rich’s unpublished catalogue Bibliotheca Americana Vetus, which lists a copy of the Cambridge Platform. While he does not state that he purchased it, there is no doubt that the Lenox copy was obtained in London from Henry Stevens, who had many dealings with Obadiah Rich. In his annotated copy of Henri Ternaux’s Bibliotheque Americaine, 1873, there is a pasted-in slip of paper in the handwriting of Mr. Lenox giving a bibliographical description of the Cambridge Platform and containing an additional mention of an Obadiah Rich copy.
William H. Scheide Copy
This copy is located in the Scheide Library, Princeton, New Jersey. The binding is probably early or middle nineteenth century, being half calf with marbled paper boards, the spine tooled in gold “A PLATFORM OF CHURCH DICIPLINE (sic) (N.E.) 1649.” Of the leaves of the book there are some with brown stains on the upper part of the outer margins, but the pages are in clean, crisp condition. The paper is smooth and thin, having a watermark similar to No. 471 in Churchill Watermarks in Paper. It is a perfect copy. It is to be noted that this is one of two copies owned by individuals. Mr. Scheide’s father, John Hinsdale Scheide, purchased it in 1911 from Dodd and Livingston for $900. There is also a pencil notation in the upper right hand corner of the title page: “Sharp Coll: 42” and above that, in ink in an early hand: “Elk: Wales from Rich: Jackson of (—).” The last word has been torn away. At the time of purchase Mr. Livingston stated that the copy had come from the John Boyd Thacher collection. The book plate discloses another owner, Edward Hailstone. The succession of ownership, therefore, would seem to have been Richard Jackson, Elkanah Wales, Sharp, Hailstone, Thacher, Dodd and Livingston, J. H. Scheide, W. H. Scheide. The Hailstone purchase was made in 1891 from Sotheby’s for £21.
Thomas W. Streeter Copy
Bound in very dark green crushed levant morocco the cover is handsomely tooled with a gold border design at the four corners. Centered within the ornate corner decorations is the title and imprint in plain gold lettering. The paper on which the Platform is printed is fairly smooth and quite thin, as is true of most copies. In aging it has become slightly tanned in color. Less ink was used as the pages of this copy were printed, so that the appearance is a little lighter in color than is true of some other copies. The edges of leaves, slightly serrated, indicate that it has had some use during its active lifetime. The copy is perfect, lacking no words or parts of pages. The Streeter copy is unique. It has usually been mentioned with that of John Carter Brown, since the title pages are nearly identical and different from the other seven. It is like the JCB copy with these differences. The lower border is straight and parallel with the upper border, where as the JCB lower border slants upward. The period after “Psal: 84” is missing, having apparently been pulled out when the border was tightened. The word “contribute,” page 9, is correctly spelled, whereas the JCB copy has it incorrectly spelled. The Streeter and JCB copies have an imprint different from the other copies. It reads “Printed at Cambridge by SG in New England. Because of this these two copies have usually been characterized as, “first issue.” Listed in the Mrs. L. D. Alexander sale catalogue of February, 1913, Anderson Galleries, this copy was sold to Mr. Theodore Newton Vail for $3,425 and sold again May, 1922, to W. D. Breaker for $5,700. At the same galleries in April, 1937, it was purchased by Lathrop C. Harper who sold it to Thomas W. Streeter after the sale. Mr Harper paid $3,500. Mr. Streeter does not recall the inconsiderable additional amount he paid to Mr. Harper.
University Of Virginia Copy
Since the author of the Platform was Richard Mather it is of interest that a descendant, William Gwinn Mather, became a collector of all Mather books and succeeded so well in his project that he gathered the largest of the twenty great collections of Increase Mather books, 85 in number, and third largest of Cotton Mather, 247, as shown in the Thomas W. Holmes bibliography. This copy is usually listed as the Mather-McGregor or McG-WGM copy. The first record of ownership in our search was the S. L. M. Barlow sale, February, 1890. No. 438, $215. The description given was, “Quarto half Russia.” When sold later, Book Prices Current listed it, “Hf. cf. (Barlow) Feb. 6, ’20 (51) $6750.” This would appear to be the Mather purchase. The Mather Collection was then sold to T. W. McGregor, who presented it to the University of Virginia. Which copy is the finest? Collectors of rare books set great store by “firsts” or “unique” copies. It will be seen at once that the Brown copy has the title page that was first to go through the press, and it is a unique copy. None other is exactly the same. The Streeter copy has the identical imprint and is a unique copy. (See Figure 3 on page 101 above.) But it is also true that the Huntington, Scheide, and Virginia copies, printed on the other half of the same sheet (the other two pages of the form) could have been printed as early in the operation as the Brown copy. Indeed these three could have been the first three sheets through the press and, when backed up, the first three perfected, and the Brown copy could have been the 5oth sheet printed and the 5oth perfected. So far as first through the press is concerned, these three copies have every right to be considered as firsts (unless it is necessary to consider only title pages). On the other hand both the Brown and the Streeter copies may have been printed and perfected before they were. Furthermore, the other four copies have a distinction. All corrections we have noted had been made. They are in the category of being the best of Samuel Green’s product. They were as he wanted all to be. And he must have given some of these sheets to his binder saying, “We want to deliver a few bound copies as quickly as possible to Reverend Richard Mather and Reverend John Cotton, the authors, and to the members of the Synod and to the General Court.” Finally, however, we shall have to say that antiquarians enjoy deviations and emphasize unique characteristics. The Brown and Streeter copies, therefore, are more to their liking. The American Antiquarian Society copy could also be chosen for first place. It is nearest to the original state, unbound, perhaps untrimmed, and it has the signature of the author’s son.
1 Studies in Bibliography, IV, 235
2 Creeds and Platforms, 186.
3 The Cambridge Press, 113.
4 American Bibliography, I, 210.
American Book Prices Current. New York: R. R. Bowker.
Cannon, Carl L. American Book Collectors and Collecting. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1941. Dexter, Henry Martyn. The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years, as Seen in Its Literature. New York: Harper, 1880.
Evans, Charles. American Bibliography. Vol. I. Chicago: Blakely Press, 1903.
Foote, Henry Wilder, ed. The Cambridge Platform of 1648 Boston: Beacon Press, 1949.
Green, Samuel A. Ten Fac-simile Reproductions Relating to New England. Boston:1903.
Holmes, Thomas J. The Minor Mathers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940.
Littlefield, George E. The Early Massachusetts Press, 1638—1711. Vol. I. Boston: The Club of Odd Volumes, 1907.
Roden, Robert F. The Cambridge Press, 1638-1692. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1905.
Slafter, Edmund F. “The Book of Sports,” Proceedings, Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, Vol. XIX, 1905.
Starkey, Lawrence G. “The Printing by the Cambridge Press of a Platform of Church Discipline, 1649,” Studies in Bibliography; Papers of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. Vol. II, 1949-1950; and a correction note in Vol. IV, 1951-1952, p.235.
Streeter, Thomas W. American Beginnings. New York: 1951. Thomas, Isaiah. The History of Printing in America. Worcester, Massachusetts: The Press of Isaiah Thomas, 1810.
Walker, Williston. The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism. New York: Scribner, 1893.
Winship, George Parker. The Cambridge Press, 1638-1692. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945. Wroth, Lawrence C. Colonial Printer. Portland, Maine: Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1938.
This article can be found in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Historical Society Volume 38, from the years 1959-1960.