New Jersey in Print, 1693-1855
FELCONE, JOSEPH J. New Jersey in Print, 1693–1855. Selections from the Collection of Joseph J. Felcone. (Princeton: Privately printed, 2021). 8 x 11 in. 40 pages. Color illustrations. Paper. New.
Joseph Felcone has been collecting printed New Jerseyana for fifty years. Printed not only in New Jersey but throughout North America and in at least a dozen other countries. Books, pamphlets, and broadsides. If it has a reasonable connection to New Jersey—and as the collector he decides what is reasonable—or if it adds something to our knowledge of the early New Jersey book trade, it fits his collection.
Felcone’s library spans 325 years of New Jersey in print, and it is the most comprehensive New Jerseyana collection ever built by an individual. An exhibition of highlights from the collection was scheduled to open at the Grolier Club in New York in September 2020. By March of that year, the books were selected, the catalogue was written, and the photographer was about to do his part when an impending death in the collector’s family prompted a cancellation of the show. Two weeks later the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic settled on this country, shutting down much of our daily routine. A year and a half later, with the country slowly reopening, it seemed a shame to relegate the catalogue to the waste bin of never-completed bibliographical efforts. Thanks to the help of photographer Bruce White and designer Jerry Kelly, Felcone has produced a small number of copies of the catalogue for bookish friends.
The catalogue highlights some of the earlier items in the Felcone collection. Included are high spots and collectors’ icons, only-known copies, important American books first printed in New Jersey, and rare local imprints. Nearly all the great New Jerseyana icons are in the collection, including one of the two known complete copies of the first printed collection of New Jersey laws (1709), one of the three known copies of the first printed assembly minutes (1711), the first New Jersey imprint (1723), and all three parts of the Elizabethtown Bill in Chancery including the very rare answer and cross-bill (1747-52-60). Ninety-five items are included in the catalogue, each is fully described, and many are illustrated. The catalogue is elegantly designed by Jerry Kelly and printed by Levellers Press in an edition of only 200 copies.