Benjamin Guild

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Advertisement for Benjamin Guild's Boston Book-Store, Cornhill, Boston, Massachusetts, 1787

Benjamin Guild (1749-1792) was a bookseller in Boston, Massachusetts, in the late 18th century.[1] 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."[2][3]


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.[4][5] He later tutored at Harvard, 1776-1780,[6] and travelled abroad.[7] In 1784 he married Betsey Quincey (1757-1825).[8][9] He served as a charter member and an officer of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[10][11][12] and on the editorial committee of the Boston Magazine.[13]

Guild sold books from his shop at no.8 State Street from c. 1785 until 1786, when he moved to Cornhill (1786-1792).[14] 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."[15] 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."[16] Guild stipulated that "any book lost, abused, leaves folded down, writ upon or torn, must be paid for."[17] After his death in 1792, Guild's bookshop and library were taken over by William P. Blake.[18]

Among the titles in Guild's circulating library in 1789:[19]

Image gallery[edit]


Cornhill, Boston, 18th century; Old Brick Church (at center) (Bostonian Society)
  1. ^
  2. ^ Circulating Library. Massachusetts Centinel. Jan. 6, 1787
  3. ^ Boston Directory. 1789
  4. ^ Boston News-Letter and New-England Chronicle; Date: 07-20-1769
  5. ^ Burleigh, 1887; p.85
  6. ^ Burleigh, 1887; p.85
  7. ^ "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
  8. ^ Massachusetts Centinel, June 23, 1784
  9. ^ Elizabeth Quincy was the daughter of Colonel Josiah Quincy I (1709–1784); cf. Burleigh, 1887; p.85
  10. ^ Independent Chronicle, May 27, 1784
  11. ^ American Recorder and the Charlestown Advertiser; Date: 06-06-1786
  12. ^ Charter of Incorporation. Records of the Academy (American Academy of Arts and Sciences), No. 1964/1965 (1964 - 1965), p.38.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser; Date: 10-26-1786
  15. ^ Massachusetts Centinel, Dec. 19, 1787
  16. ^ 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)
  17. ^ An addition to a catalogue, 1788
  18. ^ American Apollo, Oct. 26, 1792
  19. ^ New select catalogue of Benjamin's Guild's circulating library ... at the Boston Book-Store. Boston: printed for Benjamin Guild, 1789
  20. ^ WorldCat Peter Markoe
  21. ^ WorldCat Abbe Robin
  22. ^ WorldCat Nathaniel Wanley
  23. ^ WorldCat Samuel Wyld
  24. ^ WorldCat John Huddlestone Wynne

Further reading[edit]