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Reviews of The Token for 1839

The Knickerbocker, September 1838

The New-Yorker, November 17, 1838

The effects of the Panic of 1837 seem to have followed The Token into 1839; the illustrations, as the reviewer for The Knickerbocker pointed out, were few and of questionable quality. The reviewer for The New-Yorker sniped at editor Samuel Goodrich, speaking of “Peter Pindar" as if parodying the name of Goodrich’s most famous creation, “Peter Parley.” Another reviewer had done the same three years earlier.

Review of The Token, for 1839 (from The Knickerbocker, September 1838; p. 285)

The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, for 1839.—We have examined an advance copy of this annual for 1839, and must express our regret, that it has been found necessary to reduce its size and price, the better to adapt it ‘to the state of the times, and the demands of the public.’ The engravings, with two or three exceptions, are either small bank-note vignettes, or wood engravings, which have already been printed in the columns of a weekly literary journal. ‘Friar Puck,’ engraved by Prudhomme, from a painting by Chapman, is very pretty and effective, and the presentation-plate, executed in two colors on wood, does great credit to the taste and skill of Adams. Beyond these, save perhaps ‘The first Steamboat on the Mississippi,’ by Chapman, the ‘embellishments’ do not demand particular mention. The literary contents are creditable, but not of exalted merit. We miss many old contributors, and chiefest among them, the versatile and graceful author of ‘Twice-Told Tales.’ The prose portions are for the most part foreign, in scene or origin. ‘The White Scarf,’ by Miss Sedgwick, is a tale of the time of Charles the Sixth, and though interesting, is inferior to those of her own land, which she knows so well how to narrate; ‘The Rebel of the Cevennes’ is a story of the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, by the author of ‘Miriam;’ ‘Thomas Aquinas’ is another French sketch; and ‘Il Sasso Rancio,’ by Nathaniel Greene, Esq., is an Italian tale. The author of ‘Lafitte’ has a clever imaginative sketch, entitled ‘The Sacred Fire,’ Mrs. Sigourney one of her characteristic stories of a New-England Alms-House, S. Austin, Jun., a pleasant and fanciful ‘tail’ of ‘The Comet,’ and Mons. Somebody has given us a vivid picture of Cape Cod in general, and Provincetown in particular. The poetry, in the main good, is by Mrs. Sigourney, Rev. J. H. Clinch, Mrs. Seba Smith, Miss H. F. Gould, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. H. Whitman, and others. Boston: Otis Broaders and Company.

Review of The Token, for 1839 (from The New-Yorker, November 17, 1838; p. 142)

The Token for 1839.—This annual appears, we regret to say, in a very discreditable style. Its engravings, with the solitary exception of the frontispiece, (which was prepared for the Magnolia and sold to the publishers of the Token,) are old scraps, collected from the New-York Mirror and the vignettes of Bank notes. The wood-cuts by Adams possess merit, as every body must be aware who has seen them eight thousand times repeated in Mr. Morris’s widely circulated hebdomadal; but the steel etchings are absolutely beneath contempt, and would be unworthy of notice, did we not deem it our duty severely to reprehend this last deplorable attempt at humbuggery of the humbugging Editor of the Token. Indeed, the whole book bears evidence of being trumped up for sale on the Peter Pindar’s razor system. As few good pieces as possible from known writers are used with the discretion of a practical economist, for the purpose of not leaving the book entirely without sustaining names; but even these seem possessed of small interest. Of the poems, the only attractive ones are from the jeweled pen of Mrs. Osgood; and there is little valuable prose except Miss Sedgwick’s long story.

We should have been glad to commend this annual. Its publishers are men of enterprize and respectability. But there is no chance for commendation; it is a poor affair, redeemed only by pretty printing, gold edging, and silk covers. (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston.)

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