Benjamin Guild (1749-1792) was a bookseller in Boston, Massachusetts, in the late 18th century. He ran the "Boston Book Store" and a circulating subscription library in the 1780s and 1790s at no.59 Cornhill, "first door south of the Old-Brick Meeting-House."
Born in 1749 to Benjamin Guild and Abigail Graves, Benjamin attended Harvard College (class of 1769); classmates included Theophilus Parsons, Alexander Scammel, Peter Thacher, William Tudor, and Peleg Wadsworth. He later tutored at Harvard, 1776-1780, and travelled abroad. In 1784 he married Betsey Quincey (1757-1825). He served as a charter member and an officer of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and on the editorial committee of the Boston Magazine.
Guild sold books from his shop at no.8 State Street from c. 1785 until 1786, when he moved to Cornhill (1786-1792). In addition to the bookshop, he ran a circulating library, one of the first in post-war Boston. The library contained "several thousands" of volumes, which, according to its 1787 newspaper advertising "will furnish such a fund of amusement and information as cannot fail to entertain every class of readers ... whether solitary or social -- political or professional -- serious or gay." Subscribers paid eight dollars per year, or "two dollars per quarter -- to have the liberty of taking out two books at a time and no more -- to change them as often as the subscriber pleases -- and no book to be retained longer than one month." Guild stipulated that "any book lost, abused, leaves folded down, writ upon or torn, must be paid for." After his death in 1792, Guild's bookshop and library were taken over by William P. Blake.
Among the titles in Guild's circulating library in 1789:
Advertisement for Benjamin Guild, State Street, Boston, March 1785 (American Herald)
- Circulating Library. Massachusetts Centinel. Jan. 6, 1787
- Boston Directory. 1789
- Boston News-Letter and New-England Chronicle; Date: 07-20-1769
- Burleigh, 1887; p.85
- Burleigh, 1887; p.85
- "Mr. Benjamin Guild, late tutor of Harvard College, lately arrived from Holland, and who saw Mr. [John] Adams there in August last ..." cf. Salem Gazette, Nov. 15, 1781
- Massachusetts Centinel, June 23, 1784
- Elizabeth Quincy was the daughter of Colonel Josiah Quincy I (1709–1784); cf. Burleigh, 1887; p.85
- Independent Chronicle, May 27, 1784
- American Recorder and the Charlestown Advertiser; Date: 06-06-1786
- Charter of Incorporation. Records of the Academy (American Academy of Arts and Sciences), No. 1964/1965 (1964 - 1965), p.38.
- E. W. Pitcher. Fiction in the Boston Magazine (1783-1786): A Checklist with Notes on Sources. William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 473-483
- Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser; Date: 10-26-1786
- Massachusetts Centinel, Dec. 19, 1787
- An addition to a catalogue of a large assortment of books ... to be let or sold by Benjamin Guild at the Boston Book Store, no.59 Cornhill, Boston (Boston: 1788)
- An addition to a catalogue, 1788
- American Apollo, Oct. 26, 1792
- New select catalogue of Benjamin's Guild's circulating library ... at the Boston Book-Store. Boston: printed for Benjamin Guild, 1789
- WorldCat Peter Markoe
- WorldCat Abbe Robin
- WorldCat Nathaniel Wanley
- WorldCat Samuel Wyld
- WorldCat John Huddlestone Wynne
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- Charles Burleigh. Genealogy and history of the Guild, Guile, and Gile family. Portland, Maine: Brown Thurston, 1887; p.85.
- Charles K. Bolton. Circulating libraries in Boston, 1765-1865. Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Volume 11. Feb. 1907; p. 196+
- Shera. Foundations of the public library: the origins of the public library movement in New England, 1629-1855. University of Chicago studies in library science, 1949; p.137+