Key Collecting Areas: Collecting Emerson

34.  Second Church and Society (Boston).  Order of Services at the Ordination of Mr Chandler Robbins, as Pastor of the Second Church and Society in Boston, Wednesday, December 4, 1833 ([Boston]: I. R. Butts, [1833]).

Second Church, Boston

Printed broadside including “Hymn, by Rev. R. W. Emerson” (“We love the venerable house”).  From the CFPL Broadside and Poster Collection.  Source undetermined (probably gift of Percy Whiting Brown, 1929 or later).

In his Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Descriptive Bibliography (1982), Joel Myerson identifies a copy at the Boston Public Library of the broadside “Order of Services” for Chandler Robbins’s ordination on December 4, 1833.  The Concord Free Public Library also holds a copy.  Concord’s copy is accompanied by a letter (January 28, 1929) from Boston book dealer George T. Goodspeed to Percy Whiting Brown.  Goodspeed wrote:  “The broadside, ‘Order of Services At the Ordination of the Rev. Chandler Robbins as Pastor of the Second Church in Boston,’ contains the first printing of Emerson’s hymn ‘We Love the Venerable House’ written for the occasion.  This hymn was later printed in a pamphlet account of the services.  This pamphlet is scarce but occasionally available.  Of the broadside I know of no other copy.  While it is not, of course, possible to say of anything of this sort that it is unique, I find no record of any other copy.  It was lacking from both the Chamberlain and Wakeman collections and was not known to Cook when he compiled the Bibliography of Emerson.  I showed it to Mr. P. K. Foley [also an important Boston dealer] some time ago and he said that he did not remember seeing another copy.”

The term “ephemera” refers to documents produced for a particular, generally commonplace, purpose and not required beyond their intended use.  Examples include printed broadsides to advertise events and admission tickets to performances.  Because such items are often discarded when they have served their purpose, and because they may suffer damage in the course of posting or other use, good surviving examples can be rare. 

Ephemera related to the Transcendental authors is sought by collectors as part of the documentary record, of social history, and of material culture.


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