Manchester, N. H. From the Daily and Weekly Mirror Printing Establishment, [ca. 1850-1851?]. First edition. Broadside, 11 x 8 inches, woodcut portrait of M’Coy and his buttons (executed by Nathaniel Orr). Decorative typographic border. Old light folds, some light dust-soiling; a few spots of brown, but in very good condition. Item #18986
A curious intersection of antebellum New England sensibilities for entertainment and commerce, a striking and ephemeral promotional flyer for an itinerant button salesman done in the manner of a criminal circular, with six stanzas of verse on the qualities and prices of his buttons. As if this piece were not attractive enough on its manufactured merits, this copy incudes flanking the portrait of M’Coy a deeply incised contemporary inscription, as though from erased pencil, reading “Mr Gage Will be here this Noon and will exhibit the iron bar that was shot through his one [own] Head.” The New Hampshire native and railroad construction foreman Phineas Gage (1823-1860) famously had an iron tamping rod blown through his skull in September, 1848; he seems to have made public appearances in New England with his iron rod sometime ca. 1850-1851.