Horoscope 1837. [caption title of illustrated manuscript American astrological notebook]
Unusual handwritten, American astrological album from 1837 with hand-drawn horoscopes or star charts and predictive, future portrait drawings of those analyzed, family members, and of the persons whom they are foretold to encounter in the future. Also seen within are dream interpretations and the providing of lucky numbers for playing the lottery. Rare and fugitive subject matter: evidence of antebellum astrology in America.
The album comprises two horoscope readings: a longer, 91-page astrological analysis of one Robert H. Gould, not yet 21 years old, and an unnamed “Lady’s Horoscope” of a woman apparently born in 1810. Each of these sections of the manuscript is accompanied by a hand-drawn horoscope or start chart. These charts represent a stylized celestial map of the stars and astrological signs under which each person was born. Indeed, the subjects of these analyses are referred to in the manuscript as “natives,” i.e. those who are born.
The reading or analysis of Gould’s horoscope is quite detailed: he will have 7 children (“4 sons and 3 Daughters to will die in infancy the rest will be prosperous through life”); he’ll marry in 1838 or 1839; he will not marry the widow from a “good family” who will fall in love with him; the best days of the week to act (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; Saturday “middling”); he will work “in a Treasury Bank or Firm;” “Don’t Risk often in lottery, but when you do cho[o]se 14 11–1–459–19;” “In 7 years you will be in the South you will be Rich in Mexico and in the Southern States;” he will live to an “advanced Age;” etc., etc.
Portrait illustrations include an image of what Gould will look like at 21 years of age, of a “Lady [who] will cause trouble To this native;” “Sincere friend or Wife’s profile;” and a portrait of one of his future sons as a child.
The second, lady’s horoscope includes similar predictions and two drawings including her future “Husband or Sincere friend’s profile”: “This native’s Husband is good and faithfull [sic] to her and fondly Loves her and no other…he must mind or an accident in his left Hand by a Sharp instrument or Scalding. ... This native will live to old Age & die a Sudden Tho natural death.”
The creator of these horoscopes writes with authority and appears to be aware of popular dream books then being published and used to predict the future: “In relation to Dreams you [Robert H. Gould] are somewhat fatal tho my interpretation is wildly different to the dream Books of the present day.” (p7)
Quite an unusual manuscript from our experience and in an unrecorded publisher’s album book.¹ We’ve never encountered a handwritten American horoscope notebook such detailed personal predictions, lottery number advice, and speculative or predictive portrait illustrations.
Description: Horoscope 1837. [caption title of illustrated manuscript American astrological notebook]
[New York?, 1837]. [1 (engraved title)], , 91, , , 10pp. Album with manuscript additions. 8 x 6½ inches. Quarter green cloth with original pale yellow, silk-patterned paper covered boards; dark blue endpapers; all edges gilt. Album with engraved title leaf with vignette illustration. Manuscript includes two hand-drawn star charts and 13 pen and ink, outline portraits. Album re-backed with green cloth plus new cloth reinforced hinges; rubbing to edges of boards; scattered foxing; very good.
Note. 1. Album (New York: Published by Solomon King, 1830) unrecorded in OCLC.