An American Dictionary of the English Language
New York: S. Converse, 1828.
New York: S. Converse, 1828. First edition. Printed by Hezekiah Howe in New Haven. Two quarto volumes (pages 274 x 222 mm), with double fly-leaves beginning and end of each volume, frontis portrait, and signatures A-K(4), 1-113(4), 114(2) for the first volume and: Title, 1-115(4), 116(2) for the second volume. Complete with the "Additions and Corrections" leaf at the end of volume 2. Unpaginated, but with 498 leaves in the first volume (not including the frontis portrait) and 463 leaves in volume 2. Dictionary entries in triple column.
Bound in contemporary full sheep with original red and black morocco spine labels and marbled end pages. The spine labels have been patched, board corners repaired and prelims through the title page in each volume cleaned. But here's something you won't see very often, Webster’s in a contemporary sheepskin binding that hasn't been rebacked and with the joints holding. An attractive, authentic set.
Noah Webster wrote over 70,000 entries for his American dictionary, 12,000 of which had never before appeared in a dictionary. His work was an orphanage for all the bastardized English, French and even Indian words that had been assimilated into the American vernacular during the 200 years that American English had been evolving. Many words were given their American spelling in his dictionary for the first time as a way to further distance American English from that of Great Britain and also in an effort at uniformity and consistency in spelling. Uniquely American words, like “hickory” and “chowder,” appear for the first time in Webster's dictionary, embraced as a part of the budding American dialect and culture.
"...the book marked a definite advance in modern lexicography, as it included many non-literary terms and paid great attention to the language actually spoken. Moreover, his definitions of the meaning of words were accurate and concise... and have for the greater part stood the test of time superbly well. In fact, Webster succeeded in breaking the fetters imposed upon American English by Dr. Johnson (201), to the ultimate benefit of the living languages of both countries." (PMM 291) (Item #1020)