Lot #481
Noah Webster Handwritten Dictionary Fragment

This lot has closed

Estimate: $500+


Author and lexicographer (1758-1843) who published the first comprehensive dictionary of American English. Partial unsigned handwritten manuscript by Noah Webster on an off-white 7.5 x 1 slip, being a fragment from a manuscript draft for his historic dictionary in which he defines "Shamanism" on one side, and "Romanticism" and "Rondel" on the other. In full: "Sham-an-ism, n, The idolatrous worship or religion of the Ostiaks, Samoids & other Finnish tribes," and "Roman-ti-cism, n, The state of being Romantic, or fantastic. Ron-del, n, In Fortification, a small round tower, erected at the foot of a bastion, &c." In fine condition, with a small rusty paperclip impression to the edge.

Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. This he followed by compiling an expanded, comprehensive dictionary that also traced the etymology of words-this, called An American Dictionary of the English Language, took 26 years to complete. This manuscript fragment presumably dates to his earlier dictionary, as it makes no reference to etymology. An extraordinary piece from one of the greatest figures in shaping the brand of English spoken in America today.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #616 - Ended September 15, 2021

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