London: J. Farrell, No. 7 Paternoster Row, Cheapside, ca. 1790. First printing. Ephemera. An unrecorded 'Christmas Piece' broadside or children's exercise sheet, with manuscript verse at the center, signed by a young American, "Samuel Lefferts Scripsit", dedicated to his "much respected Grandfather Lefferts Hagewought (sic)", and dated December 24th, 1791.
Christmas broadsides were published and printed in London by John Farrell during the reign of George III, with contemporary and historical engravings around the perimeter, a large central engraving at the top, and blank space at the center for the scholar to write some lines of verse to the recipient. These Christmas Pieces were also for the student to show off his penmanship, and possibly win a school prize; they were referred to as "scripsits". In this case the student is an [American] young man, Samuel Lefferts. He has written 12 lines of verse having to do with the birth of Jesus and he dedicates the Christmas piece to his grandfather. [See Journal of the British Archeological Assoc, Vol 29, 1873; from p 73, article "The Christmas Piece" by Mr. H. Syer Cuming.]
The Lefferts family were prominent early Dutch settlers, some of the earliest in Brooklyn, whose roots go back to Dutch colonist Pieter Janse Hagewout, who arrived in 1660, and settled in the farming village of Vlacke Bos, or Flatbush. The original Lefferts Homestead was destroyed in the American Revolution by American soldiers to prevent its use by invading British soldiers. Samuel Lefferts is possibly born Long Island 1779, died 1838 age 65. "Grandfather" Leffert Hagewout is possibly the father of Marytie Hagewout b. 1733 in Jamaica, Queens, NY (mother of the same name). We have been unable to establish the familial relationship, but further research in Lefferts-Haghwout Family by Lefferd M.A. Hautwout or Genealogy of the Lefferts Family by Teunis G. Bergan should establish the connection.
The engravings used to decorate the sheet are derivative views, based on engravings used for something akin to Alexander Hogg's views in Bankes Geography. At the head is the view of "The Death of Capt. James Cook" . This is flanked by columns on the left and right with three engravings each, on the left "A Man of the Sandwich Islands"; "A Man of the Sandwich Islands Dancing"; and "A Man of Mangea". On the right are: "A Woman of the Sandwich Islands"; "A Young Woman of Otaheite Dancing"; and "A Woman of Eaoo". At the foot is the scene of hunters shooting at seals, with an oval rule delineating the blank in which the scholar has recorded his name and the date. Below this: "Printed & Published by J. Farrell Printer, No. 7 Paternoster Row, Cheapside." The broadside was not located in Trove, the State Library of New South Wales, OCLC, the British Library or Beddie.
With contemporary folds. 15 X 18 1/2". The image of Cook's death measures 7 1/4 x 3 1/2". A long tear up the center & some water marks expertly repaired, but visible, backed on acid free tissue.
A rare intersection between the legend of Captain Cook and Colonial New York. Very good overall. Item #19945