[Scarce pre-1850 American chapbook]
Children in the Wood. An Affecting Tale. Cooperstown [N.Y.]: Stereotyped, Printed and Sold by H. & E. Phinney, 1839.
(140 x 95) pp. 31 (verso blank) Frontispiece & 14 woodblock illustrations embellishing the text. Two paper wrappers: one blue, native to the text with the title and frontispiece reproduced on the front, the back with publisher’s pictorial woodcut and and text ‘Oratorio to aid in rebuilding Zion church.’ This wrapper has been inserted upside down and from the reverse. The top wrapper is a 19th c. floral screen-printed blue. Crude stitched binding. Some brown spotting. External wrapper has been chipped and top left corner is crumpled. Overall GOOD condition for ephemeral nature.
In 1795, Elihu Phinney was invited to Cooperstown by Judge William Cooper. Here, Elihu opened the first printing and publishing business, becoming the first printer in Cooperstown.
The judge’s son became interested in typesetting and learned the art from Elihu. Later this son, James Fenimore Cooper, would turn to writing. Elihu’s printing business contributed to the rise of Coopertown’s importance in printing.
His sons, Henry and Elihu took over the printing business after his death, remaining in Cooperstown until 1848, when the company, then styled as H. & E. Phinney, moved to Buffalo, N.Y.
The connection between the Coopers and the Phinneys continued as James’ daughter Caroline married the Elihu Sr.’s grandson in 1849.
The mysterious print on the back cover of the interior wrapper reads“Oratorio to aid in the rebuilding of Zion Church.” Zion Church may be another name for a St. Paul’s in the same county as Cooperstown. But what happened to the church that it needed to be rebuilt? There is a short and inconclusive reference to it on page 39 in Morgan Dix’s Historical Recollections of S. Paul’s Chapel, New York (1867).