[Salesman’s Sample Book:] Footprints of Four Centuries, The Story of the American People.
Salesman’s sample book or canvassing book for a popular, illustrated topical history of the United States
Salesman’s sample book or canvassing book for a popular, illustrated topical history of the United States, Footprints of Four Centuries, The Story of the American People. Comprising the Important Events, Episodes, and Incidents which make up the Marvelous Record from Columbus to the Present Time…With over 350 Illustrations.
The book was published in Philadelphia and Chicago the year after Chicago’s wildly popular World’s Columbian Exposition which revived interest in the United States’ colonial history. A special color frontispiece depicts the meeting of General George Washington and the French General Rochambeau during the Revolutionary War. The salesman’s sample book is replete with full-page plates and illustrations and other illustrations from drawings or photographs. A Prospectus leaf at the back of the canvassing book describes the contents:
Covering nearly 900 quarto pages, Embellished with over 350 New Engravings by the Best American Artists, illustrating that which is Best, Noblest, Most Interesting, and Inspiring in the History of the Land we live in.
The two covers of the canvassing book with their fold-out spine samples in cloth and leather enabled the salesperson or canvasser to display two styles of decorated bookbindings to the customer, the wide spines suggesting the hefty book’s substantial content.
As a particular selling point, the prospectus outlines “Supplementary Chapters on Important Subjects Written for this work by Specialists.” These writers include the author of Footprints of Four Centuries himself, Hamilton W. Mabie, writing “The Story of American Literature” and Miss Frances W. Willard, President of the World’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union, writing a chapter on “The American Woman.”
Interesting late 19th-century salesman’s sample book for a popular, illustrated history of the United States presenting two substantial representations of two styles of trade bookbindings.
Description: [Salesman’s Sample Book:] Footprints of Four Centuries, The Story of the American People.
Philadelphia, Pa., and Chicago, Ill.: International Publishing Company (1894). Color frontispiece, pp. +  plates. Canvassing Book. 10¼ x 7½ inches. Pictorial, gilt-decorated pale green cloth spine and upper cover and embossed leather lower cover with gilt titling; fold-out sample spines at fore-edge of each cover, cloth and leather respectively. Publisher’s small printed sheet of pink paper, titled “This Frontispiece,” tipped onto title page. Brief soling; some rubbing to edges of lower cover; good.