Boston: James R. Osgood and Company [printed at the University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge], 1884. First Edition. Hardcover. Duodecimo size, 439 pp. Very good. Item #18021510
Augustus Choate Hamlin (1829-1905), a native of the state of Maine, served as a surgeon during the Civil War; he achieved the rank of Medical Director for the Armies of the Potomac and Western Virginia, being "afterward promoted to one of the highest positions, that of Medical Inspector, in the staff of the regular army and served with distinction in the Army of the South during the famous siege of Fort Wagner. After his return to Bangor [Maine], Dr. Hamlin served as the Surgeon-General of Maine (1882-1886) under Gov. Robie, and is known as one of the most distinguished medical officers in New England history. He also served as Bangor's mayor ( 1879-1880). A lover of gems and minerals, he purchased the Mount Mica farm in Oxford County, Maine in order to mine the pegmatite there. He was also an accomplished painter and made small watercolor paintings of many of his tourmaline crystals and he also exhibited a painting titled Mount Katahdin at the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York City (1859). Most of the originals of his watercolors are held in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. As an author, he contributed articles to the medical journals, wrote a couple of Civil War-related histories, and wrote several books about gems and minerals" (n.b., from the web site of the Maine State Library).
While several copies of Hamlin's books regarding the Civil War are currently available online, his writings on his passion - gems and minerals - are much harder to find. As of this writing, there are only a few copies available of his other gem and mineral-related writings, and no copies of this title. A search of auction records reveal only six copies coming to auction in the last 100+ years (for this first edition - there are also two auction records for an 1891 printing); OCLC records show the volume with 38 institutions.
Hamlin's passion for his minerals and gems shines forth in this work; the chapters on individual stones open with an appropriate quote from literature. For example, the chapter on "The Emerald" opens with: "The Emerald burns intensely bright, With radiance of an olive light; This is the faith that highest shines, No need of charity declines, And seeks no rest and shuns no strife, In working out a holy life. (Marbodeus)". While the book mysteriously has no table of contents, it does offer a comprehensive index at the rear, and is ornamented with two chromolithographs.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in full olive green cloth, gilt decoration on the front cover depicting the Crown of the Empress Anna Ivanovna of Russia (mirrors the frontis), gilt lettering and a second decoration on the spine of the Crystal of Sapphire, Ceylon (mirrors the second chromolithograph), light yellow coated endpapers, two tissue-guarded chromolithographs, one being the frontis and the other the Sapphire (faces p. 367); duodecimo size (7 5/8" by 5"), pagination: [1-13] 14-439.
___CONDITION: Very good overall, the boards mostly clean with a few spots of soil and an area of light sunning on the front board, a strong, solid text block, clean inside, collated complete, and entirely free of prior owner markings; the corners gently bumped and with minimal rubbing, volume is cocked, some dustiness to the text block edges, and the bottom edges and fore-edge of the back board show a small amount of abraded cloth (likely mouse nibbling). We are grading as very good overall due to the near fine to fine condition of the interior; although lightly toned, the pages are free of foxing or markings of any kind and almost appears unread. Even with the condition issues to the binding, a very good copy of a scarce volume in the marketplace by an author highly regarded both for his involvement in the Civil War as well as his studies on minerals and gems.
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