Lea and Febiger records
These papers comprise a fairly comprehensive record of the business operations of Mathew Carey & Co. and successor firms. Carey began as printer and publisher of the Pennsylvania Evening Herald in 1785, but soon abandoned the Herald for book, magazine, and Bible publishing. The firm, which still e... Full description
|Collection Information:||Lea and Febiger Records (#0227B)|
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|Corporate Author:||Lea and Febiger|
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140.0 Linear feet 140 linear feet, 217 boxes, 205 volumes
These papers comprise a fairly comprehensive record of the business operations of Mathew Carey & Co. and successor firms. Carey began as printer and publisher of the Pennsylvania Evening Herald in 1785, but soon abandoned the Herald for book, magazine, and Bible publishing. The firm, which still exists as a limited partnership specializing in medical publishing, has changed its name a number of times. Until 1817, it was Mathew Carey & Co., when Mathew's son, Henry C. Carey, joined the firm to form M. Carey & Son. In 1821, Carey's son-in-law, Isaac Lea joined the firm and it became M. Carey & Sons. The senior Carey retired in 1824, and shortly thereafter the partnership became Carey, Lea & Carey, when younger son Edward L. Carey joined the firm. In 1829, Edward Carey withdrew to form a bookselling partnership with Abraham Hart. In 1833, William A. Blanchard became a partner and the firm became, briefly, Carey, Lea & Blanchard. In 1836, Henry C. Carey retired and the firm was known as Lea & Blanchard until 1851. That year Isaac Lea withdrew in favor of his son, Henry Charles Lea, and the firm became Blanchard & Lea, which it remained until Blanchard's retirement in 1865. Thereafter, the firm bore only the Lea name until 1907 when Lea's sons joined with Christian Febiger to form the partnership which still retains the name of Lea & Febiger, despite changes in principals.
In its early years, the firm successfully published a wide variety of American and English literature, including Scott's Waverly novels and Cooper. In the late 1830s, however, at the urging of Isaac Lea, a well-known naturalist and conchologist, the firm increasingly specialized in scientific and medical publication, specialization clearly shown in the cost books and contract records, but for which there are no correspondence files present.
The collection is rich in materials from the period of Mathew Carey's active participation. Present are three series of letterbooks, 1789-1822, and incoming correspondence, 1785-1822. Although the correspondence is mostly about business, there is a sizeable representation of American literary and political figures. There are also ledgers, 1817-1824.
The firm's records after Carey's retirement are less complete but no less rich. Henry C. Carey is represented by three letterbooks, 1822-1823, and two ledgers, 1822-1825. The period of the partnerships with Isaac Lea and William A. Blanchard are reflected in a letterbook, 1834-1835; ledgers, 1827-1834 and 1850-1851; copies of accounts, 1826-1846; incoming correspondence, 1850-1860; cost books, 1825-1837, 1840-1878; and a volume of contracts and copyright assignments, 1847-1890.
After Blanchard's retirement in 1865, the firm's operations are documented by the cost and contract books, above, as well as two additional cost books, 1878-1910; copies of contracts, 1885-1912; index to incoming correspondence, n.d.; and a volume of retained copies of letters sent, 1925-1941.