Benjamin Guild

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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,[5] and travelled abroad.[6] In 1784 he married Betsey Quincy (1757-1825).[7][nb 1] He served as a charter member and an officer of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[8][9][10] and on the editorial committee of the Boston Magazine.[11]

Guild sold books from his shop at no.8 State Street from around 1785 until 1786, when he moved to Cornhill (1786-1792).[12] 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 advertisement "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."[13] 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."[14] Guild stipulated that "any book lost, abused, leaves folded down, writ upon or torn, must be paid for."[14] After his death in 1792, Guild's bookshop and library were taken over by William P. Blake.[15]

Among the titles in Guild's circulating library in 1789:[16]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Quincy was the daughter of Josiah Quincy I.[5]


  1. ^ "Guild, Benjamin 1749-1792", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved July 2010 
  2. ^ "Circulating Library", Massachusetts Centinel, January 6, 1787 
  3. ^ Boston Directory, 1789 
  4. ^ Boston News-Letter and New-England Chronicle, July 20, 1769 
  5. ^ a b c Burleigh 1887.
  6. ^ "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, November 15, 1781
  7. ^ Massachusetts Centinel, June 23, 1784 
  8. ^ Independent Chronicle, May 27, 1784 
  9. ^ American Recorder and the Charlestown Advertiser, June 6, 1786 
  10. ^ "Charter of Incorporation", Records of the Academy (American Academy of Arts and Sciences) (1964/1965), p. 38 
  11. ^ E. W. Pitcher (1980), "Fiction in the Boston Magazine (1783-1786): A Checklist with Notes on Sources", William and Mary Quarterly 37, pp. 473–483, JSTOR 1923813 
  12. ^ Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser, October 26, 1786 
  13. ^ Massachusetts Centinel, December 19, 1787 
  14. ^ a b Catalogue 1788.
  15. ^ American Apollo, October 26, 1792 
  16. ^ Catalogue 1789.
  17. ^ "Markoe, Peter 1752?-1792", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved February 2011 
  18. ^ "Robin abbé 1750-1794", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved February 2011 
  19. ^ "Wanley, Nathaniel 1634-1680", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved February 2011 
  20. ^ "Wyld, Samuel", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved February 2011 
  21. ^ "Wynne, John Huddlestone 1743-1788", WorldCat (Online Computer Library Center), retrieved February 2011 


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