An Almanac from Dutch New York

The year was 1759 and the English had just defeated the French on the plains of Abraham in the major battle of the French and Indian War.

By the end of the year, an enterprising printer in New York City, James Parker, continued a tradition of publishing an almanac in Dutch for the New York and New Jersey Dutch speakers. In his almanac, he included a description and a wood cut of the newly taken city of “Quebeck” as well as a description of the principle rivers and lakes previously controlled by the French in North America. The Dutch in the Hudson Valley, perhaps interested in new opportunities to the West, would have read the news with curiosity.

qubeckwoodcut
Quebec city in 1759
quebec
The French lands have fallen into English hands.

Parker was no stranger to opportunity as well. As a young man, Parker was apprenticed to (thee!) Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Franklin, sensing promise in Parker, invested in his press in New York. For years, Parker printed Dutch almanacs. The best (and indeed only) copy of Parker’s De Americaanse almanak that I have found is the 1759 edition, and while the file description claim it is 24+ pages, I count only 10.

In addition to the description of Quebec and lands to the west, it is primarily concerned with the days of county court sessions and the miles to travel to and from New York City. It includes an interest table to calculate values in pounds, shillings, and pence. Hint, 12 pence make a shilling, and 20 shilling make a pound.

deViskill
How to get from New York to Albany. By boat?  For “Fishkill” the Dutch reads “the Fishkill”, perhaps thinking still of the river, not the town.

 

Unfortunately, copies of 18th century Dutch colonial almanacs are difficult to find. A publication from 1921 lists a number of them from 1737 to 1771, but the author of that book only managed to find a copy of one of these, the Americaanse Almanacke of 1754, apparently held by the New Jersey Historical Society. Through most of this period there were rival Dutch almanacs printed in New York: Freeman’s, printed by John Holt, and De Americaanse Almanack voor het Jaare na Christi… by Parker. The Dutch-language almanacs were probably translations of editions in English, or at least a substantial portion of them appears to have been cribbed from other English-language almanacs.

Almanacs were probably the most commonly printed and sold Dutch-language publications in 18th c. New York, so its a shame that more haven’t survived.

poundssterling
A Table for Calculating pence of interest into shillings and pounds. Dutch frugality?

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