Document Collection

Finding Aid for the A. Edward Newton Collection

A. Edward Newton (1864-1940) was born in Philadelphia, and during the course of his long life became one of this country’s most renowned book collectors and antiquarians. His wealth derived from his successful business manufacturing electrical equipment. He eventually amassed a collection of 10,000 books. In 1918, Newton published a collection of essays, The Amenities of Book Collecting and Kindred Affections, which came to be considered a classic of the genre. He often wrote popular essays about books, authors and travel. He published numerous essays in The Atlantic Monthly and The Saturday Evening Post. Newton lived in Daylesford, Pennsylvania in a home he himself designed in 1898, called Oak Knoll. It was situated opposite the Daylesford train station. After Newton’s death Oak Knoll fell into disrepair and its remains were eventually eliminated to be replaced by a town home community, also called Oak Knoll.

The collection of short essays by Newton housed in the TEHS collection were created as elaborate Christmas messages which he had printed and sent to many friends. There is a list of titles stored with the booklets. For more on Newton and Oak Knoll see the History Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1, January 1991; and Vol. 42, No. 1, Winter 2005. There are many other references to Newton in the History Quarterly which can found via the search function at the website Images of the ruins of Oak Knoll taken in 1979 can be found on the TEHS Image Collection. There is also a Biographical file on Newton, containing various clippings, as well as a printed invitation and wooden souvenir ornament from a “Marionette Party for Little Children” held at Oak Knoll in 1926. The Society library houses three books by Newton.

A. EDWARD NEWTON’S CHRISTMAS BOOKLETS -- All privately printed by the noted bibliophile A. Edward Newton as Christmas gifts to friends. All in blue wrappers, about 5” x 7”, except 1920 and 1922.


A RIDICULOUS PHILOSOPHER, 1913. An essay on William Godwin, the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft and the father-in-law of Shelley. Small spot on wrapper, very slight yellowing along paper edges. VG


TEMPLE BAR THEN AND NOW, 1915. A 25-page discussion of that famous section of London, with several illustrations. Inscribed by Newton. to “Billy.”Two penciled words on title page, slight fading/yellowing along inside edges, a 1/10” tear at top of wrapper. VG-


A HISTORY OF MOSES, 1919. A facsimile page plus a discussion of an essay dictated at the age of six by Robert L. Stevenson to his mother, for which Stevenson won a prize from his uncle. Includes also a facsimile sketch. Disbound from wrapper, but all present. Slight staining on two blank pages, very slight yellowing along paper edges. VG-


DEATH-BED PORTRAIT OF JOHN KEATS, 1920. Stiff white paper self wrappers with reproduction of Severn’s portrait of Keats which Newton owned with the following caption printed underneath: “Death-Bed Portrait of John Keats from original drawing in the collection of A. Edward Newton.” 5 7/8” x 7 3/8”. Age yellowed around edges of outside of folder. O/W VG


REFLECTIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF MADAME THRALE PIOZZI, 1921. A discussion of different views of Johnson’s acquaintance. Inscribed by Newton to Wm. J. Henneman. Slight discoloration to wrapper spine. VG


DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1922. The Reynolds portrait of Dr. Johnson with a one-page printed note on front of beige wrapper. Approx 4” x 6” VG+


POPE, POETRY AND PORTRAIT, 1936. A portrait and discussion of Alexander Pope. Present is the blue paper Morley insert. Fine


CHRISTMAS GREETINGS from Mr. and Mrs. A. Edward Newton, 1937. Simply: “In the words of Charles Lamb, ‘Yours ratherish unwell,’ A. Edward Newton.” With a sketch of Lamb by C.E. Brock, 1899. In mailing envelope addressed to Mr. Ernest Dawson, Los Angeles. Fine


GEORGE DYER, 1938. A reminiscence of “the fun (E.V. Lucas) had in running down the vagaries of George Dyer,” while Lucas was composing his biography of Charles Lamb. Present is the orange paper insert describing his (Newton’s) condition as “good secondhand...” In unaddressed mailing envelope. Fine

Cheryl Leibold