“As A Matter of ‘arti’-Fact!” – Vol. 1, Issue 1, 12/2003

 C. F. William Maurer

Director

 Ellen Healy

Education Director

 

Help in Our Mission to Preserve and Educate

 
Next year Gomez Mill House will celebrate the 290th anniversary of the establishment of a business here by Luis Gomez.

 

As a child his parents had left Spain and moved to France to leave religious persecution behind. His grandparents were trading from Europe to the islands in the Caribbean. When Louis XIV revoked the Treaty of Nantes, Luis left the old world and followed this trade route to the Caribbean and then later to New York – about 1700.

 

In April 1704 he purchased a certificate of denization from Queen Anne, giving him the rights of a citizen of the English domain.

 

This document, this exciting treasure—was donated in 1998 by the Jesselson family—and is on display here at Gomez Mill House.

 

How great it is to be able to tell the Gomez story using this document! In fact, when you get right down to it, the basic tools to teach and to illustrate the history in house museums are the buildings, collection and the documents. These artifacts—an object made by human work—are used by our docents to make the story of Gomez Mill House come alive.

 

How gifted and talented the owner/occupants of Mill House were! Artisans in stain and leaded glass, and paper makers, and writers and publishers.

 

Artifacts that tell of their religion, their country, their business, their family, and their lives are needed to continue to tell their stories.

 

 
 
THE ETCHING OF CONTEMPORARY LIFE,  Marlborough-on-Hudson, Dard Hunter, 1916.

 

This is the fifth publication of the Chicago Society of Etchers and the second done here by Dard Hunter. Grey boards and art vellum spine, with paper label on the front board. 9×12. 11 unnumbered leaves, unopened. Laid in is a signed etching by Ernest Roth and a rare list of the Society membership. Type and paper were created by Hunter for the book at Gomez Mill House.

 

A gift (2003) of The Robert Jacobs Family

 

Of Special Interest

The Earliest Jewish Bookseller and Publisher in NYC was Benjamin Gomez – great grandson of Luis Gomez.  His cousin, Isaac, wrote a children’s book and Benjamin’s obituary.

 

Dard Hunter cut his own fonts, made his own paper, made his ink and printed books at Gomez Mill House.

 

Inside this Issue – Highlights

 

Benjamin Gomez Page 2-3
Dard Hunter Page 4—S
Martha Gruening Page 6-7

 

I cannot live without books.  Thomas Jefferson to John Adams 1813

 

Page 1

_____________________________________________________________

Benjamin Gomez –

 First Jewish Bookseller in NYC

 

Benjamin Gomez— Bookseller
By Charles G. Poore

 

Today the books that have the faded mark “Printecl by Benjamin Gomez” are almost as scarce as knowledge about the young man who in the second decade after the Revolution offered these hostages to oblivion. And yet, he must have been fairly well known in the New York that was steadily pushing its streets northward into the wide salt marshes and farming lauds of Manhattan Island. Aaron Burr could hardly have avoided stopping in Maiden Lane to look over the new books Benjamin Gomez had received by the latest sailing ships from Europe. Occasionally that fiery duelist might encounter in the Gomez bookshop the gentleman he was later to refer to as “My friend Hamilton, whom I shot.” Some of the periwigged merchants who were gathered under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to form the first stock exchange undoubtedly had that taste in fine editions best satisfied by the elaborately solvent. Benjamin Gomez was conveniently at hand to sell them books. He was also there to supply the literary wants of a Mr. Fitch, who was making quite a spectacle of himself at the time by navigating an affair he was pleased to call a steamboat, on the doomed waters of the Collect Pond. And there were many other patrons in the growing seaport for a bookseller who could offer the new novels from abroad and the seasoned classics, a wide variety of travel and history books and an appalling number of Baedekers to redemption.

 

“Benjamin Gomez, Bookseller and Stationer, No. 32, Maiden Lane, near the Flymarket,” they would note in the public prints of the town, “has received by the late arrivals from Europe, and by the Union, Capt. Snow, late from Dublin, an addition to his former assortment of books, amongst which are..” Then they would go around to No. 32 to see whether they wanted to buy any of the new books… For the advertisement gave only a very hurried and compressed list of what the literary minded New Yorker of the late eighteenth century might choose to read. There were volumes of sermons by Whitfield, Blair, Swift, Muir, “and a number of religious books too tedious to mention.”

 

He belonged to the fourth generation of his family in America when he was born here in 1769, and he was, so far as I can find, the first Jewish bookseller in New York. His great-grandfather was Lewis Moses Gomez, who came to the Colonial town that had caused so much trouble for the Duke of York at the turn of the eighteenth century. Benjamin’s father was Matthias, and his mother was Rachel Gomez. The male line of that family ended when Benjamin’s son, Matthias, was killed in a duel in New Orleans, in 1833, but the name has come down through the descendants of his great-uncles…

 

To Be Continued….

 

A Few Of The Books Published by Benjamin Gomez:

 

1792: The Christian Economy

 

1794: Pilgrim’s Progress

Letter to the Jews Inviting Them to an Amicable Discussion of the Evidences of Christianity by Joseph Priestly.

Letter to Dr Priestly, In Answer to Those He Addressed—by David Levi. (a gift of the Galberd Famly)

Edward Ward’s Female Policy or the Arts of a Designing Woman

 

1795: Captain Cook’s Third and Last Voyage.

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

Benj. Keach’s The Travels of True Godliness from the beginning of the World to this present Day

 

1796: Cook’s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean

 

1797: The Visions of John Banyan

 

John Ely’s The Child’s Instructor

W. James’ The Letters of Charlotte

 

1798: Robert Gibson’s A Treatise of Practical Surveying

 

And Many More……………

 Page 2

 

____________________________________________________________