The Old Print Shop

Cottonus Matherus : S. Theologiae Doctor Regice Societatis Londinensis Socius, : et Ecdesice apud Bostonum Nov=Anglorum nuper Praepositus.

  • ARTIST: Peter Pelham

  • MEDIUM: Mezzotint,

    DATE: 1727. c.1860.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 12 x 9 3/4" (30 x 24.5 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: P. Pelham ad vivum pinxt ab origin fect et excud. <br><br><b>The first mezzotint known to have been produced in America.</b> <br><br> <I>In our opinion this impression is a restrike from the original plate. Soon after the plates rediscovery in 1860 by Joseph Sabin he had prints pulled from the plate. The exact number of these restrikes is not known but it was likely to have been very limited. Some Sabin impressions are known to have been printed on period laid paper. This example is on period laid paper. It also was at one time was folded for binding, likely for an extra-illustrated work.</I><br><br> Peter Pelham was born in London c.1697. In 1713 he apprenticed to John Simon, a leading engraver of mezzotints. Afterwards he found employment with various printsellers producing mezzotints. While in London he is known for producing at least twenty-six portraits. In 1726 or 1727 he immigrated to America with his wife and two sons. He settled in Boston and established a school where he taught writing, reading, dancing, painting, and needlework. He also practiced his work as an engraver of mezzotints with the first being a leading citizen and preacher of Boson, Cotton Mather. In American he produced a total of sixteen engraved works including a map, “Plan of Louisbourg.” Pelham was stepfather to the artist, John Singleton Copley, through his third marriage to Mary Singleton. His son, Henry Pelham, is known to have produced a large map of Revolutionary era Boston. His prints are seldom available and are considered to be of great rarity. <br><br> Cotton Mather was a member of one of the most distinguished early Massachusetts families. Born in Boston, the son of Increase Mather and the grandson of John Cotton and Richard Mather, young Mather grew up under the watchful eye of the community and became the object of great expectations.<br><br> He entered Harvard at age 12, having already mastered Latin and Greek. He graduated six years later with a master’s degree, which was presented to him by his father, the president of the college. <br><br> He was deeply devoted to prayer and Bible study, but also harbored strong scientific interests that caused him to consider medicine as a vocation.<br><br> Few figures in early American history have as many vocal admirers and detractors as Cotton Mather. He benefited the Massachusetts community by his lifelong commitment to doing good. His reform efforts included pleas to educators to motivate students through rewards, rather than punishments.<br><br> In the scientific realm, he was an early advocate for smallpox inoculation, a stand that earned him the antipathy of many of his neighbors. Mather also took an active role in political matters, most notably by agitating against the governorship of Edmund Andros.


  • CONDITION: Fair to good condition, a brilliant impression. Folded horizontal and vertical. It almost appears to have been bound into a small book.

  • REFERENCE: Oliver, "Peter Pelham, Sometime Printmaker of Boston" #1; Stauffer, 2496