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Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 80,000
(ALMANACS.) BANNEKER, BENJAMIN. Bannaker's (sic) Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina Almanack and Ephemeris for the Year of Our Lord 1796. Woodcut ("Anatomy of a Man's Body") on page 3; 36 pages, 12mo. Original self-wrappers, sewn; light stain across the front page, not affecting subsequent pages; penultimate leaves (33-34) unopened. Pages lightly and evenly toned. Baltimore: Philip Edwards et al., (1795)
an exceptional copy of an extremely rare american almanac. Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), self-taught astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, farmer and herbalist, helped with the survey of the Federal Territory that was to become the grid of Washington D.C. Encouraged by his friends and neighbors the Ellicotts, Banneker produced his first "Almanack and Ephemeris" in 1791. Just prior to its publication, Banneker sent out a manuscript copy to Thomas Jefferson, with a cover letter urging the abolition of slavery, which he compared to the state of the country before its separation from Great Britain. He included a quote from Phillis Wheatley. Jefferson replied to Banneker and there followed a a brief exchange in which Jefferson stated that "nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit that nature hath given to our black brethren talents equal to the other colors of men." However he seemed unimpressed by Wheatley's poetry. In short, Jefferson maintained his belief that blacks could occasionally produce someone of the intellect of Phillis Wheatley, or Benjamin Banneker, but that the race itself was limited in its capabilities. Provenance: descendants of the original owners, friends of the Ellicotts. Drake 2243, the scarcer of two issues--with a corrected title-page, reading "Eighth Year of the Federal Government." Not cited by Evans; ESTC locates four copies, while OCLC locates only two.
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