Mar 25, 2021 - Sale 2562

Sale 2562 - Lot 68

Price Realized: $ 42,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
BENJAMIN BANNEKER. Banneker's Almanack, and Ephemeris for the Year of our Lord, 1793. [44 of 48] pages. 12mo, stitched; worn at edges without text loss, toning and finger-soiling, lacking the final 2 leaves H1 and H2 (advertisements) as usual, dampstaining to 5 final remaining leaves, a few early manuscript notes and marks. In early 20th century full morocco slipcase. Philadelphia: Joseph Cruikshank, [1792]

Additional Details

The Black scientist and surveyor Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) is best known today for the annual almanacs he published from 1791 through 1796. This is his scarce second almanac, which was published simultaneously in Philadelphia and Baltimore. It begins with a page-length biography of Banneker (it also appeared in his 1792 almanac), describing his background and education: "To struggle incessantly against want is no ways favourable to improvement: what he has learned, however, he did not forget; for as some hours of leisure will occur in the most toilsome life, he availed himself of these." He also describes the astronomical calculations he presents in the almanac, which were "finished without the least information or assistance from any person . . . so that whatever merit is attached to his present performance, is exclusively and peculiarly his own."

Typical of almanacs of this period, it also contains detailed monthly calculations on sunrise, sunset, and phases of the moon, as well as predictions on the weather. An engraving of "The Anatomy of Man's Body, as said to be governed by the Twelve Constellations" appears on page 3. Other features include a list of feast days, a description of the coming eclipses, a table of compound interest, a lengthy court calendar, and longer text pieces such as Benjamin Rush's "A Plan of a Peace-Office, for the United States." Several relate to the anti-slavery movement, including "Abstract from the Speech of William Pitt on the Motion for the Abolition of the Slave Trade" and "Extract from Wilkinson's Appeal to England on Behalf of the Abused Africans."

Banneker had famously corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about his almanac in 1791. In this issue, he includes a long abstract from Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia" in opposition to slavery, in which Jefferson hopes for "total emancipation . . . with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation." Drake, Almanacs 10324; Evans 24071 (calls for just 44 pages).