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W.A. Adams' Directory of the City of Dubuque. Also Containing a Business Directory and Advertisements of Business Men, in the City of Dubuque. Together with Much Valuable Information. With a Complete Index


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Dubuque: W.A. Adams, 1857. Hardcover. 8vo. Original printed paper over boards with modern black cloth tape spine. Pp. 75-204, (1p). Advertisement endpapers. Good only. Boards quite edgeworn, scuffed and rubbed with rounded corners and rear board showing a mended horizontal crack; first couple leaves likewise edgeworn. A tight and decent first edition of this Iowa town's second city directory -- with a choice twist: From the collection of William B. Allison (1829-1908), influential Iowa politician and Republican who served that state in Congress as representative (1863-71) and long-time senator (1873-1908). Allison moved from Ohio to Dubuque the very year this title was published, where his older brother Matthew had an insurance and real estate business. William appears in this directory as "of Samuels, Cooley and A," Matthew as "real estate and ins ag't." Three large, exuberant and youthful ownership signatures appear in this book -- all three reading either "W. Allison" or "M. Allison," the large initial letter conceivably either alternative. All are atypical of the older politician's usual "W.B. Allison," as numerous exemplars bear out, but none are anywhere near this early and this difference alone could explain the atypical appearance. The signature on rear blank flyleaf is almost certainly that of Matthew, as the word "Agt." in the same hand follows -- as in insurance agent. The first signature, along the darkened top edge of the front board, also notes "149 Main [St]" afterward, and since Matthew's business address appears in this book as 79 Main Street, this too suggests a "W. Allison" interpretation. The front inner flyleaf bears a huge "W" or "M" Allison signature, followed by "DuBuque / Iowa." This rarely-seen old alternative spelling for Dubuque might suggest the spelling of a newcomer to town, as William Allison was at the time. The first 74 pages of this book, by the way, appear to have been intentionally removed, likely by an early owner, perhaps Allison himself, to omit all the introductory ancillary material and leave only the "meat" of the book -- the business directory that a downtown businessman such as Allison would be interested in. An intriguing Allison family copy, in any case, with a bit of unanswerable autograph mystery to it.


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