Almanac with an early plan of the siege of Boston

[Attributed to Benjamin West] / Printed by Robertsons and Turnbull, BICKERSTAFF's NEW-ENGLAND ALMANACK, For the Year of our LORD, 1776…., Norwich, [CT], [1775].
12mo, [24pp], woodcut plan. String tied.

This scarce almanac includes two items relevant for the early months of the Revolution. Following the title is a small Plan of Boston (5 5/8″h x 3″w), with an extensive key on the facing page. This is in fact two images in one, a main plan detailing the Shawmut Peninsula and identifying 17 landmarks, and a small inset depicting the greater Boston area and locations of the American siege works. Both appear to be based on the extremely rare A New and Correct Plan of the Town of Boston and Provincial Camp, which appeared in the Pennsylvania Magazine for July, 1775. Also of note is an article describing “the Method of making Gun-powder, which at this Juncture may be carried into Execution in a small Way, by almost every Farmer in his own Habitation.” Whether the recipe was effective or not this writer cannot say, but it would have been of the greatest interest at a time when the American Army was desperately short of gunpowder.

Evans attributes the almanac to Benjamin West (1730-1813), an astronomer, professor and almanac publisher based in Providence. Over a 30-year period he published almanacs under a number of titles, including Bickerstaff’s New-England Almanack, Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack, the North American Calendar, and Bickerstaff’s New York Almanack.

Drake, Almanacs, #304; Evans #14618; OCLC #207639115 (American Antiquarian Society, Harvard, and the Huntington Library); North American Imprints Program #w022556 (giving 13 institutional holdings.


Minor staining, chipping and dog-earing, but very good for such an ephemeral item