Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Histories, chronologies and almanacs...

offer us the illusion of progress, even though, over and over again, we are given proof that there is no such thing." — Alberto Manguel (The Library at Night)

When I was little, I remember going through The Farmer's Almanac and checking out the winter to see if snow days were in the future...come to think of it, I think I looked at it with that idea in mind as a teacher also!
Anyway, these 19th century almanacs caught my eye at auction!

Now, according to the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac, this winter will see more days of shivery conditions (no kidding!?!):a winter during which temperatures will average below normal for about three-quarters of the nation.

A large area of numbingly cold temperatures will predominate from roughly east of the Continental Divide to west of the Appalachians (see map). The coldest temperatures will be over the northern Great Lakes and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But acting almost like the bread of a sandwich, to this swath of unseasonable cold will be two regions with temperatures that will average closer to normal—the West Coast and the East Coast.


While three-quarters of the country is predicted to see near- or below average precipitation this winter, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any winter storms! On the contrary, significant snowfalls are forecast for parts of every zone. (check!)For the Middle Atlantic and Northeast States, for instance, we are predicting a major snowfall in mid-February; possibly even blizzard conditions for New England
(indeed, even shovelry is not dead).

The first almanacs were published in the 15th century. Many historians consider that the first printed almanac dates to 1457 and was printed by Gutenberg in Mentz, Germany. They had projections for the weather (no Weather Channel, remember?), the harvest and even for wars. Some advice about nourishment, health regulations, and economic guidelines were also included.

The Old Farmer's Almanac
(still in publication today) was originally published in 1792. Robert Thomas was the Old Farmer's Almanac's first editor and owner. Within three years circulation had raised from 3,000 to 9,000 and the cost of a Old Farmer's Almanac was about nine cents. On an interesting note, Robert Thomas only added the word "Old" to the title in 1832 and then promptly removed it. However in 1848, two years after his death, the new editor and owner put the word "Old" back.

Also still in publication, the Farmers' Almanac was founded by editor David Young and publisher Jacob Mann in 1818. David Young was editor until his death in 1852, when an astronomer named Samuel Hart Wright become his successor and calculated the astronomy and weather forecasts. Now, according to the Farmers' Almanac, the Almanac has become more guarded with its famous weather predicting formula and created "Caleb Weatherbee," a pseudonym that is given to all past, present, and future Almanac weather forecasters.

The Public Ledger was a daily newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published from March 25, 1836 to January 1942. Its motto was "Virtue Liberty and Independence". For a time, it was Philadelphia's most popular newspaper, but circulation declined in the mid-1930s. The almanacs I have in the shop are wonderful pieces of history that were distributed by the Ledger newspaper...there are emphatic warnings that they are not to be sold, and it is amazing that they have survived all these years. I love some of the tidbits from within the pages...

And any graphic designer has to look at the cover with admiration...

Of course, the most famous almanac is Benjamin Franklin's
Between Shakespeare and Franklin, many of our daily phrases can be attributed to them. So, I leave you with one from "Poor Richard":

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten either
write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.


Just a bed of roses said...

Susan what a fabulous post on the almanac's everything you say is so true right down to the art work. My husband and I were really enjoying your books here, and your going to have those sold in no time, they are treasures.
Great content! Stay warm and don't let any iguana's fall on your head...(our inside joke now) I should be meeting some mmpink girls this week, meadow street, lori and a few others.
What does the almanac say about Dallas this weekend???? I will dress warm just in case!

gail said...

Hi Susan,,, Well here in AZ we can count on sunshine and no snow in 2010 and probably 3010! lol I loved this post. Very interesting. I always love learning something new from your posts. I love the quote at the end too. I will have to keep that in my mind as I go on. :)
Have a great week, and stay warm!
(()) gail

Marie said...

Hi Susan,
Happy New Year! I loved reading about the almanacs. Your blog looks great. Love the new photos.

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