Collecting Delaware Books
Among all the Delaware books, the Delaware Tercentenary Almanack & Historical Repository 1938, is unique. In its unnumbered 55 pages, this slim volume compresses more Delaware energy, famous names, and artistic talent than any other volume. Who cares if it is corny? It is old provincial Delaware at its best.
The officers of the tercentenary commission include John Biggs, Jr., Edward W. Cooch, John P. Nields, and Anna T. Lincoln, all famous in their own fields and all well-known Delaware authors. It was probably Biggs whose political clout was able to get Franklin Delano Roosevelt to open the tercentenary celebration on the Christina River waterfront.
The executive committee was headed by Christopher L. Ward, corporate lawyer and prolific writer of satire, humor, and history. Ward wrote the Almanack. Its arch quaintness is typical of one of Ward's styles. His authorship is only stated in the acknowledgments on the next to last page.
There are headers, vignettes and sketches in black-and-white throughout the book. Not until the list of credits is it learned these decorations were done by Stanley M. Arthurs, Clifford W. Ashley, Albert Kruse, Frank E. Schoonover, Andrew Wyeth, and N. C. Wyeth. Andrew Wyeth would have been 20 years old at the time. By examining the pictures with a magnifying glass, one can see tiny initials identifying the artist for each work. A sample of each artist's work is at the end of this article.
To top of the Delaware connections, the first edition, published in December, 1937, was printed by the Press at Kells in Newark on laid, 100% rag paper from Curtis Paper Co., Newark, and bound in book cloth made by Joseph Bancroft & Sons, Wilmington.
The book begins with a calendar listing a Delaware this-day-in-history event for every day of the year. It is followed by a chronology of Delaware history and another of Delaware firsts. There are a number of short articles on colonial and federal period events.
The book finishes with a list of former place names. It is said that Stanton was once called Cuckoldstown, and that Wyoming was known as West Camden. Either might be fighting words today. Frederica was Johnny Cake Landing. Bombay Hook was the musical Boomptiens Udden, and Roxana was Dog's Ear Corner.
This little book went into several editions. It is not hard to find and is not high-priced unless it is in pristine condition with a dust jacket to match. — JPR