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1888 Engraving Captain John Bertram Essex County Salem Ma. Genealogy History

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Antique 1888 steel engraving bookplate!


Captain John Bertram is unquestionably the "cream of the Salem merchant crop".

John Bertram was 11 years old when his family came to America in 1806 from the Isle of Jersey. He shipped out to sea for the first time as a cabin boy on the Hazard during the war of 1812. He spent much of the war on board British prison ships, and returned home penniless and barefoot.

Undaunted by the experience, Bertram promptly returned to sea. His natural business instincts served him well and, by 1830, the young seaman was able to buy a one quarter interest in his first ship. By 1836, Bertram owned a fleet of vessels and was actively trading in Batavia, Sumatra, Zanzibar and other foreign ports.

When gold was discovered in California in 1849, Bertram added to his fortune by shipping supplies to prospectors in the gold fields. Intrigued by the possibilities of western expansion, he built, and then managed, a number of railroads in the western United States.

As a result of his many business ventures, John Bertram became a very wealthy man. Much of his fortune was used for the benefit of others: he was the primary organizer and financial supporter of Salem Hospital (1873) and funded a home for aged men which still operates today. Bertram also provided coal for heat to many of Salem's poor, and left a fund to the city to continue that tradition even after his death. Also in his will was a substantial bequest to the Children's' Friend Society.

Throughout his long life, Captain Bertram was constantly helping those in need or just trying to get a start in business. Shortly after his death in 1882, John Bertram's family added to his legacy by donating his Essex Street mansion to the city of Salem for a public library.


Portrait with signature facsimile.

This is from a collection of bookplates rescued from a badly damaged two volume 1888 first edition set entitled "History Of Essex County Massachusetts, With Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers And Prominent Men." By D. Hamilton Hurd.

For provenance, you will receive a copy of the title page. We also leave the edge untrimmed, which provides origin provenance.

The approximate entire bookplate size is 7.5 x 10.5 inches or 19 x 27 cm. The backside, or verso, is blank.

Very good. See images for condition, some have spots, foxing, tears, etc.


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