Garrat Noel

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Noel's catalog, 1755 (Boston Public Library)

Garrat Noel (1706—1776) was a bookseller and educator in New York City, in the 18th century.[1][2] He emigrated from Cádiz in 1750.[3] In 1751 he worked as a "teacher of the Spanish tongue... also... reading, writing, arithmetick and merchants accompts."[4][5] By 1752 he kept a shop on Broad Street,[6] and in 1753 on Dock Street.[7] From his shop Noel also operated a circulating library of "several thousand volumes of choice books, in history, divinity, travels, voyages, novels, &c."[8][9][10]

In addition to books and periodicals Noel sold stationery and other sundries: "Playing cards by the dozen or single pack. Best ink powder and ink. Paper of all sorts, by the ream or quire, penknives, pencils, quils, pens, wax, and seals, ink-pots and pewter-stands, and boxes, paste-board files with laces, brass-wire files, blanks of all sorts, scales and dividers, and pocket compasses, pounce and pounce-boxes, memorandum books, fountain pens, ivory folders, leather paper cases, blank books for accounts of all sorts, alphabets, copy books, receipt books, 9 leaved carts of the Channel and West Indies. Likewise a fresh assortment of the famous tooth powder, Stoughton's Bitters, lotion water, smelling bottles,[11] viper drops, Turlington and West's pectoral elixir, lavender drops, and lavender water."[12][13][14][15][16]

In 1753 he carried in his shop "curious bustos, fit furniture for gentlmen's houses, in plaister of paris, plain, polished and burnished in gold, with black pedestals, all very fine drapery, viz. Shakespear and Milton, Homer and Virgil, Horace and Tully, Cicero and Plato, Caesar and Seneca, Prior and Congrave, Addison and Pope, Lock and Newton, Dryden and Gay, Venus and Apollo, Ovid and Julia. Likewise a parcel of pictures in the newest and genteelest taste."[17]

Among the titles offered for sale by Noel in 1755:[18]

According to contemporary anecdotes, a customer once travelled to Noel's bookshop from "some distance up Hudson River" especially to purchase "Spanish bulls" advertised by Noel in the newspapers. The "old Scotchman" mistook the documents "for cattle."[24]

Noel died in 1776 in Elizabethtown, New Jersey.[25]

Further reading[edit]


"Circulating libraries are very justly esteemed of great service to the publick, whereby persons may improve as well as entertain their minds, at a small expence... Sundry gentlemen have for a long time, been desirous of seeing such a thing established in this city, and... given their approbation by subscribing to the one now on foot."
Advertisement for G. Noel, New York Gazette, 1763[26]
  1. ^ WorldCat. Garrat Noel
  2. ^ His name is sometimes spelled "Garret Noel" or "Garrett Noel."
  3. ^ "Garrett Noel, the first New York bookseller." Magazine of American history v.16, no.1, July 1886
  4. ^ New York Gazette Revived in the Weekly Post-Boy, June 10, 1751
  5. ^ J.R. Spell. Spanish teaching in the United States. Hispania, v.10, no.3, May 1927
  6. ^ New York Mercury, Nov. 13, 1752
  7. ^ New York Mercury, Dec. 31, 1753
  8. ^ "To those who delight in reading..." New York Gazette, Aug. 29, 1763
  9. ^ "Conditions for subscribing to Noel's Circulating Library..." cf. New York Gazette, Sept. 12, 1763
  10. ^ "To promote useful knowledge, and for the entertainment of those who are disposed to spend their winter evenings agreeably; a circulating library, upon a very extensive plan, will be opened... by Garrat Noel at his book store;" cf. New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Sept. 5, 1768
  11. ^ Smelling-bottle: "phial or small bottle for containing smelling-salts or perfume ready for use;" cf. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989
  12. ^ A Catalogue of Books in History, Divinity, Law, Arts and Sciences, and the Several Parts of Polite Literature; to be Sold by Garrat Noel, Bookseller in Dock-Street. New-York: Printed by H. Gaine, in Queen-Street, between the Fly and Meal-Markets, 1755
  13. ^ Advertisement: "The only true preservative for the teeth and gums, just imported in the Nebuchadnezer, from London, and to be sold by Garrat Noel, school-master ...;" cf. New York Gazette, Aug. 17, 1752
  14. ^ "To be sold by Garret Noel ... the famous Eau de Luce;" cf. New York Mercury, May 22, 1758
  15. ^ "Said Noel has likewise to sell, the very best of Durham Flour of Mustard, and a fresh parcel of very fine snuff, commonly called Black Guard." cf. New York Gazette, Aug. 29, 1763
  16. ^ Noel also sold wallpaper: "exceeding cheap, a parcel of handsome patterns of flowered paper for hangings" cf. Advertisement in New York Gazette, Nov. 30, 1767
  17. ^ New York Mercury, Dec. 31, 1753
  18. ^ Catalogue. 1755
  19. ^ WorldCat Edward Bysshe
  20. ^ WorldCat Sarah Harrison
  21. ^ An example of this title (possibly resembling the version sold by Noel) can be found here (London, 1727)
  22. ^ Park. List of architectural books available in America before the Revolution. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, v.20, no.3, Oct. 1961
  23. ^ WorldCat John Fransham
  24. ^ Original anecdote. Pennsylvania Packet, Nov. 1, 1790
  25. ^ New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Sept. 28, 1776; quoted in: New Jersey Historical Society. Documents relating to the Revolutionary history of the State of New Jersey, v.1. Trenton, NJ: J.L. Murphy publishing co., printers, 1901
  26. ^ New York Gazette, September 12, 1763