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Stock# 89407

Charming Vernacular Manuscript Schoolbook

J. W. C. Evans, the Philadelphia boy who created this manuscript school book of Latin lessons, would go on to become a physician and amateur archaeologist. The carefully written manuscript contains lines in English and Latin, from some classical text. 

In later life (1859) Dr. Evans would discover a wedge of sandstone with curious characters inscribed thereon.  The piece came to light by a farmer plowing his fields in the northwest edge of Pine Barens, some fifteen miles from the Delaware River. Dr. Evans wrote to the American Ethnological Society, describing the stone, but a proper interpretation of the inscription was not made until years later. Dr. Barry Fell described the markings as Tartessian, in an Iberic language, which was used before the first centuy A.D., dating the wedge from about 200 B.C. to 100 B.C.

J.W.C. Evans was the son of Edward Evans, a noted early American plasterer, who did a ceiling medallion in Independence Hall, among many other important commissions in noted homes and buildings of Philadelphia. In 1813 and 1814, Evans styled himself a plasterer and a measurer of plasterer's work, with a shop located on the corner of 9th and Maple. In later directories, the elder Evans is described as a specialist in "ornamental stucco work."

The cover image on the present book is noted herein as Pratt's Gardens near Philadelphia. The image shows some hand color in a juvenile hand, likely by the young Evans, who has also scribbled "Fire" above the mansion house, with illustrated flames. This image depicts Lemon Hill, Henry Pratt's Schuylkill River estate. 

Condition Description
Contemporary light blue card wrappers. Vernacular school exercises book. [21] pages of manuscript text on thick lined wove paper. Engraving laid in (creased and stained): Abbotsford, the Seat of Sir Walter Scott (Philadelphia: Adam Waldie). Hand-colored engraving attached to front cover, with manuscript title: "Pratts Gardens near Philadelphia." Pencil sketch of blank swan on inside of front cover. The name "J. W. C. Evans" appears on the front cover and the initials "J. W. C. E." appear inside the volume.
Mark Reinberger: A Plasterer's Daybook attributed to Edward Evans, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 117:4 (October 1993), pages 331-338.