Taking a Count

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on April 7, 2010

As reported by the AP, “a first edition of the first U.S. census signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1791 is heading for the auction block in New York City.”

Here’s the description from Sotheby’s:

N08653, Wednesday, 14 April 2010, 2pm, Lot 98

Return of the Whole Number of Persons within the Several Districts of the United States. Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine, 1791

Estimate: 50,000-70,000 USD

8vo (8 x 4 3/4 in.; 204 x 125 mm). Signed on the final text leaf (“Th:Jefferson”); minor worming in lower left margin affecting the title-page and first text leaf, some marginal spotting. Contemporary Dutch-combed marbled paper wrappers; right edge of upper wrapper frayed, lower half of backstrip perished, wormhole in lower left corner of upper wrapper, some remnants
of paper adhering to joints. Green cloth folding-case, tan morocco
spine lettered gilt. . . .


First edition of the first United States census, signed by Thomas Jefferson on the final text leaf. The enumeration was evidently printed in a very small edition for distribution by the Secretary of State at whose urging the census was undertaken. Rare, only two other copies have appeared at auction since 1975: the Park and the Sedgwick-Norton copies.

%d bloggers like this: