Text: Anonymous, “Autographs,” New York Mirror (New York, NY), vol. 20, no. 1, January 1, 1842, p. 3, col. 1


[page 3, column 1, continued:]


The November and December numbers, of “Graham’s Magazine” contain engraved fac-similes of the signatures of the most distinguished American authors, with very sprightly comments by Mr. E. A. Poe; and we understand they have excited a great deal of interest. The collecting of autographs has been a great rage among people of fashion for some years past in England; and even among the learned it seems to have succeeded to the old passion of book collecting. There are few women of ton in London who have not their autograph-books to produce for the amusement of their visiters. The fondness for these trifles seems to be extending to this country; and we know of several ladies who are forming collections. The largest collection in this country, probably, is that of Dr. Sprague, of Albany. Mr. Gilmor, of Baltimore, has also a great many that are curious; among others, we believe, a letter written by Dr. Johnson to the late Bishop White. There are some good private collections in Philadelphia; and in the Franklin Library in that city there are original letters of Lord Chatham, Hume, Richardson, Gray, Smollet, James II, and others. Much interest, and that of no irrational kind, attaches to these familiar tokens of the great. A paper which the mighty hand of Chatham has rested on, a word that Johnson’s pen has traced, could not be gazed on without emotion by any man. Autographs have engaged the curiosity of some of the most eminent persons of the time.



The article by Poe is “Autography.” In 1842, the word “ton” was British slang for “high society.” The “Mr. Gilmor, of Baltimore” mentioned was Robert Gilmor (1774-1848), a prominent merchant and founder of the Maryland Historical Society. A catalogue of his autograph collection was published in 1832, running 52 pages. (Gilmor’s own copy of the catalogue, in the Beinecke Rare Book Library of Yale University, includes numerous additions by Gilmor.) The Franklin Library is now known as the Library Company of Philadelphia.


[S:0 - NYM, 1842] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Edgar A. Poe (Anonymous, 1842)