Transmigration of Dexter to Dragonfly
Dexter's Contexture ~ The Array of Threads that Weave
the Fabric of this Vision ~ Homespun by the Darning Need

Home ~ Pickle Publications

The first edition of "A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress" was published the end of May in the year 1802. Dexter called his achievement "a littel book" and soon it was referenced, simply as "Pickle." With its first issue, the Newburyport Herald printed another description:

"We observe, advertised in a Salem paper, a thing just published entitled 'A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or plain Truths in a Homespun Dress,' by Timothy Dexter, Esq. of Newburyport. This will be a valuable acquisition to the lovers of knowledge and polite literature."

In his "History of Newburyport, Volume II" (page 422) --- John J. Currier describes Dexter's work as a "curious mixture of sense and nonsense." Pages 495 - 496 of Volume I of Currier's history records the publication of the early editions of "Pickle" --- citing the American Antiquarian Society as the source of the first printing by a Salem publisher, noted by Marquand as 24 pages in length. "Large additions" were added to the second publication printed in 1805, a copy of which is available at the Boston Public Library. The latter edition was thirty-two pages, each 7" long and 4" wide. Another edition printed the same year is also found in the Boston Public Library's annals. This edition was 5-1/2" long and 3-1/4" wide. The library's archives included copies of the following correspondence from one W. Carlton to Timothy Dexter with both 1805 editions.

SALEM, June 14, 1805


By the politeness of Mr. Emerson 1 I received the very valuable contents of your package. A new edition of the unprecedented performance entitled, "A Pickle for the Knowing Ones" is very urgently called for by the friends of literature in this country and in England --- and I presume with the additions and improvements intended to accompany the second edition, provided it should be well printed, would entitle the author to a seat in Bonaparte's Legion of Honor, --- for my Lord Dexter is an honorable man. But Sir, the work cannot be executed for the sum named, --- nor in the time specified, --- I will print an edition of 500 copies with the additions for fifty dollars and cannot possibly do them for less.

Wishing your Lordship health in perpetuity, --- a continuance of your admirable reasoning faculties, good spirits, and an abundance of wealth, --- and finally a safe passage over any river, not with sticks but a pleasure boat, I remain yours with the utmost profundity.


The Right Honorable Lord Dexter, Kt. Newburyport.

1 The Knowing Ones expect that the "Mr. Emerson" referenced in this correspondence is one of the sons of Bulkeley Emerson, an acquaintance of Dexter who was a bookseller and stationer with a shop at the foot of Fish Street (now State Street) near Market Square.

Commencing in the late 17th Century, Emerson's shop served as the stop for post-riders and he, the colonial postmaster. Mr. Emerson continued as postmaster when Newburyport was incorporated in 1764 and served until his death in 1801. This tenure coincided in part with Timothy Dexter's twelve years as "Informer of Deer" (from March of 1776 until March of 1788) and Benjamin Franklin's election as the continental Postmaster General in July of 1776.

Bulkeley Emerson was succeeded by his son, Joseph Emerson, who held the office of postmaster for six years. The Knowing Ones acquire detail from Currier's "History of Newburyport" that the family inspired the acquisition of knowledge. Joseph Emerson opened a school for the instruction of children and Bulkeley Emerson, Jr. served as treasurer and librarian of the Newburyport Library association. It was Bulkeley Emerson, Jr. who assumed management of the family bookstore and most likely directed Lord Timothy Dexter to the Salem vanity press that printed the 1805 editions of "Pickle."

Back to top

The Knowing Ones welcome communication ~

Site Design by Bright iDear   Copyright © 2002-2009 All Rights Reserved
Website:  Email: