May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 42

Price Realized: $ 2,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Mott, Abigail. Biographical Sketches and Interesting Anecdotes of Persons of Colour. 192 pages. 12mo, contemporary tree calf, moderate wear; foxing and minimal dampstaining to contents; inscribed by early owner Elizabeth Byrd on title and page 5. New York: Mahlon Day, 1826

Additional Details

First edition of one the earliest attempts at chronicling the lives of noted people of color, compiled by a white Quaker abolitionist who was active in the Underground Railroad. In addition to sections on better-known figures such as Paul Cuffee, Phillis Wheatley, and Benjamin Banneker, Mott included sketches of the lives of ordinary people as well, hoping to touch the hearts of potential converts to the cause of abolition. In addition to the biographical sketches, the book includes a section of anecdotal pieces and a selection of poetry. Although the work was frequently reprinted, the first edition is scarcer than might be expected; we are unaware of any others at auction since 2013. Afro-Americana 6900; Sabin 51111.
The original owner of this book was Elizabeth Byrd, who signed it twice. She was quite possibly Elizabeth Pearsall Byrd (1767-1842) of Flushing, NY, a Quaker who was active in the New York Yearly Meeting's Committee on the Indian Concern from 1808 to 1813. Several Mott family members were also Long Island Quakers who served on the same committee, including Abigail's mother Anne Mott. By family tradition, the book was given to the consignor's grandfather in the early 1900s "by a family friend from Rahway, New Jersey who claimed that Mott herself gave the copy to the family."