Scope and arrangement
The papers of the Sabin family span the personal lives, and the publishing and bookselling careers of three generations of the family: Joseph Sabin (1846-1926), and J. Percy Sabin (1872-1934), and are comprised of correspondence, notes, and financial record. The business and family portions of the correspondence (1859-1931) are closely related; for many years, the Sabin family maintained two establishments, one in the United States and one in England. Correspondence between the two branches of the business often referred to both family and business matters. Many letters concern requests for particular books or editions, payment for merchandise delivered or expected, advertising matters, maintenance of business premises, and the commission of works for the Sabins' print publishing endeavors. Correspondents include not only individual customers, such as Horace Greeley, but also the representatives of many of the institutions served by the Sabins, including the Boston Atheneum, the J. Pierrepont Morgan Library, the Lenox Library, and the Library of Congress. Another aspect of the correspondence relates to the Sabins' activities as publishers, concerning the periodical Bibliopolist, and including subscription requests and correspondence with contributors; the correspondence concerning publication centers on the Dictionary Catalogue of Books Relating to America, published by the Sabin firm from 1868 to 1892. As the catalogue was issued in parts, a large portion of the correspondence concerns not only ordering the next available installment, but also the supply of missing sections or title pages.
In addition to the correspondence, the Sabin papers contain business and financial records; bound volumes, 1843-1927, various years, include daybooks for the firm variously doing business as Joseph Sabin, Joseph Sabin and Son, Joseph Sabin and Sons, Joseph Sabin's son, Joseph F. Sabin, and J. Percy Sabin. Among the other bound volumes are cashbooks, account books, ledgers, invoice books, lists of subscribers to the Dictionary Catalogue of Books Redating to America, and address books. Unbound financial records include receipts, bills of lading, indices of prints for sale, invoices, drafts and cancelled checks and check stubs.
Finally the Sabin papers contain a variety of other materials: the household account book of 1872-1873, of Jenne Sabin, wife of Joseph F. Sabin; various manuscript descriptions of items for sale by the film Joseph F. Sabin's descriptions of the Nathaniel Greene papers sold by the firm to the W. L. Clemments Library, as well as the George Bancroft Library sold to the Lenox Library; J. F. Sabin's sketch and composition books,1862-1864; and two versions of the catalogue of the Joseph F. and J. Percy Sabin collection of washingtonia, a portion of which is part of the Washington collection in the manuscript division of the New York Public Library. There are, in addition, firm letterheads, manuscript fragments, unattributed transcripts of letters, undated rare book catalogue clippings, three logbooks, 1907-1909, of the Sabin family yacht, the Sabina, and unsorted notes, possibly, relating to the Dictionary Catalogue of Books Relating to America. Finally, the Sabin papers include photographs of the Sabin family, homes, and yachts.