The Columbiad a Poem. [Robert Fulton Association Copy; Likely Given to Fulton’s Quaker Friend, Patron, and Portrait Sitter, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr].
An important Robert Fulton association copy, an 1809 book given by Robert Fulton to his Quaker friend, patron, and portrait sitter, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr.
An important association copy, given by Robert Fulton to his Quaker friend, patron, and portrait sitter, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr.
Joel Barlow’s The Columbiad is an epic poem of the history of America. An amplification of the author’s poem “Vision of Columbus,” it was first published in 1807 (see BAL 906).
Barlow dedicated the book to his close friend, engineer and inventor, Robert Fulton. Fulton financed the book’s publication, one of the costliest for its time. Fulton’s portrait painting of Barlow served as the basis of the frontispiece of the first edition of The Columbiad. Further, Fulton’s sketches and designs for that edition were the inspiration for its eleven engravings.
At the head of both title pages of this third edition of The Columbiad is the following inscription: “From my friend Robt. Fulton, 2 Mo. 18th 1809 [palimpsest].” The palimpsests suggest the name of “J. Bringhurst.” They are dated in the Quaker manner.
Joseph Bringhurst, Jr. (1767–1834) was Fulton’s friend and patron, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker. Fulton painted Bringhurst’s portrait in 1786.¹ The palimpsests indicate Robert Fulton presented this copy of The Columbiad to Bringhurst. In turn, Bringhurst documented this gift from Fulton.
In the original 1807 dedication to Robert Fulton, Barlow wrote that his poem was:
“...ornamented by your [Fulton’s] taste. You designated the subjects to be painted for engravings; and, unable to convince me that the work could merit such expensive and splendid decorations, you ordered them to be executed in my absence and at your own expense.”²
Barlow’s two-page obsequious dedication to Fulton was not reprinted in this 1809 edition. The first edition, printed on quarto paper and finely illustrated and bound did not sell well. More modest, unillustrated editions of The Columbiad followed in 1808 and 1809 (the present edition).
An excellent association copy; a poetical work from the young American Republic linking the work’s original dedicatee and illustrator, famed inventor-artist Robert Fulton, to his Quaker friend, patron, and portrait sitter, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr.
Description: The Columbiad a Poem. [Robert Fulton Association Copy; Likely Given to Fulton’s Quaker Friend, Patron, and Portrait Sitter, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr].
Philadelphia: Published by C. and A. Conrad and Co. Philadelphia; Conrad, Lucas and Co. Baltimore, 1809. Third Edition. Two 12mo vols. xiv, 258; 218pp. Full tree calf, leather spine labels. Ex-library with usual marks; bindings worn, dry, joints weak, one board separating; fair.
1. Official Robert Fulton exhibition of the Hudson-Fulton Commission: A Collection of… (New York 1909). 2. See Blakemore, Joel Barlow’s Columbiad, A Bicentennial Reading (Knoxville, 2007). Sabin 3416. See BAL 906 and Wegelin 854.