Monday, October 7, 2013

High Price for Hopkins' Historical Memoirs'

You can see that this book has a long title. 
Historical Memoirs, Relating to the Housatunnuk Indians: Or, An Account of the Methods Used, and Pains Taken, for the Propagation of the Gospel Among that Heathenish Tribe, and the Successes Thereof, Under the Ministry of the Late Reverned Mr. John Sergeant: Together, With the Character of that Eminently Worthy Missionary; and an Address to the People of this Country, Representing the very Great Importance of Attaching the Indians to their Interest, not only by Treating them Justly and Kindly, but by Using Proper Endeavors to Settle Christianity Among them. 
Perhaps you can see that it was published in 1753. That is four years after John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Housatonic Mohicans (eventually known as the Stockbridge Mohicans) died.
It is a very important book, partly because the author, Samuel Hopkins, had access to John Sergeant's journals which were later lost. The book also contains descriptions of things like maple syrup that white people don't seem to have been aware of before that point. The Indians boiled it down into a kind of sugar.
I got a chance to read a legitimate copy of this old book at the Wisconsin State Historical Society ten years ago. As I turned the pages it was literally falling apart - that is what happens with a book that is more than two hundred years old.
Anyway, a copy of this book brought $5,856 in a 2010 auction.
Sounds like an awful lot, until you realize that it was purchased for $10,500 in 2001! 

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