Boston: Printed by Nathaniel Coverly, Jun'r. Corner Theatre Alley, nd [c.1812]. Broadside, 26.5 x 19 cm. Text in two columns separated by a decorative centerline. Two relief cuts printed above the title, one of an American Eagle with arrows clutched in his talons, the other of a drum, flag, bayonets and muskets. Margins closely cropped, printed area measures 26 x 17.5 cm. First line of text: "Times, alas! are most distressing."
A patriotic War of 1812 ballad, in thirteen stanzas and a chorus, exhorting the public to defend against the impressment of American seamen by the British, and railing against the trade in scalps. The song references Fort Malden "where the British pay the Savages for the American scalps." Likely this broadside was printed following Gen. William Hull's surrender of Fort Detroit in August of 1812, to the British forces and their Native American allies under Chief Tecumseh, attacking from Fort Malden. Item #63669
A scarce broadside from the press of Nathaniel Coverly, Jr. OCLC lists only the copy at AAS [untrimmed: 28x 23 cm.] bound in the Isaiah Thomas collection of broadside ballads, v. I, no. 122, presented to the society in August 1814.
Nathaniel Coverly, Jr. who had established his Boston printing business in about 1811 began, according to Kate Van Winkle Keller in her article "Nathaniel Coverly and Son, Printers, 1767-1825," [AAS: 2008], pp. 211-252, by concentrating on "broadsides for common readers, some reprinting older texts but many with newly composed lyrics reflecting current events and local news. During his first few years in business, Coverly could afford to print only limited editions of inexpensive ephemeral broadsides with entertaining or topical texts that would sell quickly. He capitalized on American victories at sea and particularly on Boston?s pride, the ?Constitution.' Sensational titles, breathless introductions with italics for emphasis, and catchy phrases characterize Coverly?s new work.? Tight finances and the scarcity of paper meant he often was unable to invest in good quality paper of consistent sizes.
Keller's article also references Isaiah Thomas's visit to Boston in June 1814 where he obtained a group of unbound sheets of songs and ballads he intended to bind himself at his press in Worcester: ?The purchase of more than three hundred ballad sheets was an important act, saving the evidence of Boston?s street literature printed in 1813. Since nearly half of the 334 sheets in the collection bear the imprint of Nathaniel Coverly, Jr., and another 120 were probably printed by Coverly, it is likely that Thomas made his purchase at Coverly?s small shop on the corner of Milk Street and Theatre Alley, now Devonshire Street. Thomas, who was apprenticed to the Boston printer Zechariah Fowle in mid-1756, had known the Coverly family from that time. He had indeed preserved the material he wanted, but could not resist observing the poor quality of paper and presswork.?