Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 219

Price Realized: $ 3,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(MUSIC.) First two pieces of secular music published in America, by Alexander Reinagle and William Brown. Each 12¾ x 8½ inches, on disbound separated sheets, with title pages engraved by John Aitkin; minor wear. Philadelphia, [1787]

Additional Details

These two early examples of American music publishing are elevated by competing claims. The Grove Dictionary essay by Robert Hopkins on Alexander Reinagle states that his "Selection of the Most Favorite Scots Tunes" was "the first solely secular musical publication in the United States." J. Bunker Clark's "Anthology of Early American Keyboard Music" states that William Brown's "Three Rondos" "seems to be the first keyboard music to be published in the United States" (page vii). As these are both solely secular keyboard works, only one can be first. We don't have an exact publication date for Reinagle, but Brown was taking subscriptions through 10 February 1787, so we assume it appeared in print soon after. Both were produced from a small batch of engraved punch plates manufactured by John Aitken (see Richard Wolfe, "Early American Music Engraving").

Alexander Reinagle (1756-1809). "A Selection of the Most Favorite Scots Tunes." 28 pages plus title page, on 16 disbound sheets; minor foxing, a few notations added in early manuscript. Includes eleven instrumental tunes for pianoforte or harpsichord: Moss Plate, Lee Rigg, East Nook of Fife, Malt Man, Black Jock, Lochell's March, Mount Your Baggage, Maggy Lauder, Steer Her Up and Had Her Gawn, Laddie Lie Near Me, and Dainty Davie. Adapted from Reinagle's "Collection of the Most Favourite Scots Tunes," published in London in 1782; Reinagle emigrated to Philadelphia in 1786. Three in OCLC, and none traced at auction. Philadelphia: printed for the author, [1787].

William Brown. "Three Rondos for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord." 6 pages plus title page and subscriber list, on 6 disbound sheets. Dunlap & Claypoole's Daily American Advertiser of 23 January through 10 February 1787 announced that subscriptions were being gathered for William Brown's "Three Favorite Rondos Adapted to the Harpsichord." Subscriptions were being gathered both by Mr. Brown and Mr. Reinagle for the work. Among the notables on the subscriber list here are Alexander Reinagle, four members of the Penn family, and the dedicatee Francis Hopkinson. Four in OCLC, and none traced at auction since 1906. Philadelphia: printed for the author, [1787].