Publisher: Bristol: May 28, 1816 and June 9, 1819.
Condition: In fine condition.
Book ID: 27317
Description2 vols, 24 x 37 cm and 18.5 x 24.5 cm, both manuscripts stitched into contemporary paper wrappers with elaborate calligraphic designs on both upper and lower covers. The first one is titled "Joseph Ely His Book / Bristol May 28, 1816" (written inside the front wrapper); it has 11 leaves; the second has the manuscript title "The Following Composed and Executed for Amusement / Joseph Ely. / Bristol / June the 9th, 1819;" it has 13 leaves. The second also has the small blind-stamp in the lower margins of "Bally and Co., Bath."
CommentsTwo examples of the extraordinary work of Joseph Ely, an amateur poet of Bristol and skillful calligrapher. Little is recorded about Ely, except that between 1816 and 1823 he composed poetical manuscripts in a fine calligraphic hand, and dated them as above. They were apparently for his personal enjoyment and perhaps for distribution to friends, though no presentation copies are recorded. Several examples of his manuscripts have survived, no doubt due to their unusual artistry. The Pforzheimer Collection at the New York Public Library has nine examples, dated between July 17, 1819 and June 16, 1823; Winterthur Museum has one example dated Dec. 19, 1817; and McMaster University, Ontario, has one example, dated Nov. 14, 1817. The manuscript dated 1816 contains eleven poems, with a “Poetical Preface to the Reader” in which Ely writes that he had written two hundred twenty nine Compositions in . . . five hundred ninety one borders,” and in a note at the end of the poem is stated that this is the “The twenty third book . . .” The poems, each of which is individually signed and dated, include acrostics, “Poetical Thoughts” on education, on ministers of the state and the gospel, on hearing a sermon, on English history, etc.