Honesty is the Best Policy

hamilton 64c.jpgThomas Dilworth (died 1780), A New Guide to the English Tongue (Boston: Printed by J. Kneeland, in Milk-street, for A. Ellison, MDCCLXXIII, [1773]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 64. Gift of Sinclair Hamilton.
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Charles Dickens remembered his copy of A New Guide and mentioned Dilworth’s frontispiece portrait in his Sketches:
“But the party arrives, and Dando, relieved from his state of uncertainty, starts up into activity. They approach in full aquatic costume, with round blue jackets, striped shirts, and caps of all sizes and patterns, from the velvet skull-cap of French manufacture, to the easy head-dress familiar to the students of the old spelling-books, as having, on the authority of the portrait, formed part of the costume of the Reverend Mr. Dilworth.”

—from Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Sketches by “Boz,” [pseud.] illustrative of every-day life, and every-day people … Illustrations by George Cruikshank (London: J. Macrone, 1836). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1836

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“Perhaps the most successful of the spellers of this period was Thomas Dilworth’s A New Guide to the English Tongue. The first edition of this book was issued in England in 1740. The first American reprint was made by Benjamin Franklin in 1747. Fourteen additional reprints were made in America between this date and 1778. The 1770 edition was 4 by 6 inches in size and was bound in leather. The typographical features were the same as in all other books of the period. This speller, however, had one feature which none of the contemporary spellers displayed—a series of 12 crude little woodcuts, 2 ¾ by 3 inches.” —Nila Banton Smith (1889-1976), American Reading Instruction (2002)

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View an animation of early relief printing: