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For Collectors Only EDITED BY RALPH G. NEWMAN 18 East Chestnut Street Chicago 11, Illinois John Page Nicholson was one of that select group of men living during the Lincoln-Civil War era, who not only had the opportunity, but the good judgment to collect books, pamphlets and manuscripts relating to the period. A member of a family with widely divergent interests, Nicholson early absorbed an interest in fine books and collecting as well as a knowledge of military matters. His paternal grandfather, John Nicholson, a native of Scotland, was a gunsmith who came to Philadelphia in 1755. During the Revolutionary War he manufactured firearms for the Continental Army. He is supposed to have designed the firelock or musket which the Committee of Safety adopted for the use of our soldiers during the war with Great Britain. Gunsmith Nicholson's son, James Bartram Nicholson, father of John Page Nicholson, was a bookbinder, a partner in the distinguished firm of Pawson & Nicholson. The other member of the firm, James Pawson was an English binder. Nicholson was a fine craftsman , who in 1856 published A Manual of the Art of Bookbinding, founded on John Hannett's Bibliopegia. Nicholson's Manual was the first practical work on the subject of bookbinding by an American and a much more thorough study than the Hannett book. John Page Nicholson was born on the 66th anniversary of our Nation's Independence, July 4, 1842. He enlisted in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry on July 23, 1861, and rose from regimental commissary sergeant to brevet lieutenant-colonel. He served with distinction with the armies of Western Virginia, Virginia, the Potomac, the Cumberland and Georgia. He was with Sherman in the march to the sea and the Carolinas and participated in the final surrender of Johnston's forces. He was Recorder-inchief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Chairman of the U. S. 131 132RALPH G. NEWMAN Gettysburg National Park Commission and Vice President and Trustee of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Erie, Pennsylvania. Returning to Philadelphia from the War in October of 1865, Colonel Nicholson later reported, "It was my good fortune to be invited on Saturday afternoons to the meetings of "Le Cercle autour du PoĂȘle" [the literary equivalent of the "hot stove league"], at the old book store of John Pennington & Son." Here one could meet many distinguished writers and veterans of the War of 1861-1865, including George Allen, Samuel Lewis, Henry Rawle, Winthrop Sergeant, General Franz Sigel, Charles J. Stille, Charles Sumner, John William Wallace and William Russell West. Nicholson determined to build a collection of books and other materials relating to the Civil War, both.North and South, but deferred all collecting of naval material to Frederick Schober, who was then assembling a fine collection relating to the navy in the War and eliminated Lincolniana from his collection because his good friend, neighbor and fellow soldier, Major William H. Lambert was then gathering his great Lincoln collection (later sold at auction in 1914). He established a few rules which present day collectors and libraries would not accept. With few exceptions all of his books, pamphlets, manuscripts and periodical excerpts were rebound (all by the firm of Pawson & Nicholson). "Scurrilous " books were not knowingly added to the library, and if they did find their way to the book shelves were not listed in the catalogue of the collection. Colonel Nicholson and Louis Philippe d'Orleans, Comte de Paris, were close friends and Nicholson edited the American edition of History of the Civil War in America and The Battle of Gettysburg, both written by the distinguished Frenchman. He was the editor and compiler ot Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, and the author of a pamphlet, The Gettysburg National Park. He was responsible for what seems to be the first separate appearance in print of A Letter from President Lincoln to General Joseph Hooker, January 26, 1863, a four page publication issued in an edition of only 45 copies in 1879, the year General Hooker died. In 1914, by a strange coincidence the same year in which the Lambert Collection of Lincolniana was catalogued and sold by The Anderson Galleries in New York, the catalogue...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 131-133
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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