Portsmouth Athenaeum

Portsmouth, NH



Times of Turbulence and Triumph: Print and Printing Pertaining to The Province of New Hampshire in New England, circa 1700-1783


A $3 bill, Christmas Day promissory note and 1759 newspaper ad urging merchants to cut off credit to one Sarah Eaton, wife of John Eaton, are all part of an exhibit coming to the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

Times of Turbulence and Triumph: Print and Printing Pertaining to New Hampshire Circa 1700-1783 opens Sept. 15, 1998 in the research library at 6-8 Market Square. All those who visit the free exhibit will receive a four-page reproduction of the Oct. 19, 1759 issue of The New Hampshire Gazette, the state's first newspaper, published by Daniel Fowle.

The front page features an article on English Prime Minister William Pitt who was very supportive of the colonists. Prominently featured is a story about Gen. James Wolfe's conquest of Quebec, a decisive battle in the French and Indian War. Inside are stories from London, Hamburg, and of course, advertisements.

Robert Rogers (1731-1795) mezzotint by Martin Will, 1776, Bruce Alexander photograph

"There's an ad for Jonathan Moulton Jr.'s 'four commodious farms in Hampton, to be let,' " noted Athenaeum proprietor Paige W. Roberts, who is helping organize the new exhibit. "Then there's the notice about eight seamen who deserted a ship. There's a 'young black slave' for sale. And a husband urging Portsmouth merchants not to give his wife Sarah credit on his account, because he won't pay any of her debts. You get gender, race, the military, all sorts of great stuff." The exhibit also features maps, almanacs, book plates, songbooks, printed sermons and money. "Printed currency began to replace coinage in the mid-1700s," Ms. Roberts said. "The exhibit shows the evolution of the money."

There is a collection of mezzotints, portraits of American colonists influential for their military exploits such as George Washington and John Paul Jones, and British notables for whom New Hampshire towns were named, including Jeffrey Amherst, "commander in chief of his majestys forces in North America 1758-1764." (The town in Massachusetts is also named for him.)

The Athenaeum is publishing an illustrated catalog for the exhibit that will be for sale. The exhibit runs through Dec. 5, 1998.

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