John Doggett & Co. subscription books (1825-1961)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Claire Milldrum and Louis Miller, December 2019
Graphics Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: John Doggett & Co. subscription books
Creator: Morrill, Edward, 1888-1962
Inclusive dates: 1825-1961
Extent: 1 box
The John Doggett & Co. subscription books contain the signatures of 92 subscribers to The American Kings lithograph set. Also included are several sketches produced by John Doggett Cobb circa 1906; an 1825 contract between Jonathan Cobb and John Doggett & Co. for the sale of the lithograph set; and notes and clippings from Edward Morrill, the rare book dealer who purchased the subscription books in 1944.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

2006. P-2509.2.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation

John Doggett & Co. Subscription Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John Doggett (1780-1857) was a gilder, frame maker, and a salesperson of other household furnishings based in Massachusetts. Doggett founded a looking glass and picture frame gilding factory ca. 1803 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, his hometown. He formed John Doggett & Co., a partnership with Charles Miller and Samuel Sprague Williams ca. 1810. This partnership dissolved in 1815, with Williams and Doggett continuing on as Doggett & Williams. When Doggett's brother Samuel joined the company in 1817, it returned to its original name John Doggett & Co. John Doggett & Co. established a Looking Glass Warehouse in Boston in 1818, and by 1821, the Warehouse was used to exhibit paintings, including Rembrandt Peale's The Court of Death. This was enough of a success that Doggett founded Doggett's Repository of Arts. In 1822, Doggett exhibited portraits of the five United States presidents painted by Gilbert Stuart. The success of this exhibit induced Doggett and Stuart to seek out an engraver to make prints of Stuart's portraits. In 1825, John Doggett & Co. circulated the two subscription books in this collection, recording a total of 92 men, primarily from eastern Massachusetts, each subscribing for a set of the prints. They signed on for $2.50 per set for "India paper" or $2.00 for regular paper. John Pendleton, a purchasing agent for Doggett, journeyed to France in 1825 and obtained lithograph stones created using Stuart's portraits, though it was not until a second trip to France in 1828 that Pendleton and his brother William produced the series of lithograph prints, The American Kings, which were very successful. Doggett had no more involvement in the lithography business, but continued his other business activities until his retirement in 1850.

Doggett's daughter Sophia (1805-1878) married Jonathan Holmes Cobb (1799-1882), a Harvard graduate and lawyer. The subscription books and contract passed through her side of the Doggett family until 1944, when they were purchased by Boston book dealer Edward Morrill.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The John Doggett & Co. subscription books are two volumes containing the signatures of 92 subscribers to The American Kings lithograph set. A folded broadside advertisement for the print series is on the inside front cover of each volume. Also included are several sketches mainly produced by John Doggett Cobb; an 1825 contract between Jonathan Cobb and John Doggett & Co. for the sale of the lithograph set; and notes and clippings from Edward Morrill, the rare book dealer who purchased the subscription books in 1944.

The two volumes contain the signatures of 92 men mostly from eastern Massachusetts. There are a total of 174 signatures between the two volumes, 80 of these signatures appear in both volumes.

In each volume the first set of pages is divided into two columns. In volume one signatures are present in both columns, whereas in volume two the second column lists the city names where the signatories lived. For a full list of signatories, please see our Signatories index.

In addition to the subscription signatures both volumes also contain numerous sketches, including charcoal, colored pencil and watercolor illustrations. The sketches present in volume one are attributed to John Doggett Cobb circa 1906 and include charcoal drawings of medieval English abbeys such as Fountains Abby, St. Joseph’s Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey, Netly Abbey, Whitby Abbey and Lindisfarne Prior. All of these sketches appear to have been based on stereographic images. There are several more charcoal drawings that may have also been produced by Cobb of Wallingford Bridge, Roundham Bridge, the Bablock Hythe Ferry, Folly Bridge, Newbridge, Nuneham Park, Clifton Hampden and Mapledurham Woods. Most of these drawings contain notations for where to add specific colors in future depictions. Both the Wallingford Bridge and Mapledurham Woods sketches have been colored with pencil. There are also several watercolor and charcoal illustrations of unconfirmed authorship that are present in volume two, including drawings of natural scenery, a castle, a wagon train, a campfire overlooking a town, and what appears to be a busy seaport.

This collection also includes a handwritten agreement dated November 1, 1825, regarding the production of the prints arranged between John Doggett & Co. and Johnathon Holmes Cobb. The contract states that Doggett would provide Cobb with 1000 sets of The American Kings while Cobb would garner the subscriptions and gain all of the profits after paying Doggett $5,000. There is also a clause outlining what would happen if too few sets were sold.

Also contained in the collection is a note written on an envelope from the Hotel Lexington in New York City discussing the purchase price of the subscription books and the rarity of the broadsides; a description of the collection and its provenance written on the front of a mailing envelope addressed to Edward Morrill from the New York Public Library; a 1934 exhibition guide of the First National Bank of Boston highlighting The American Kings painted portrait series; a newspaper clipping ca. 1863 regarding Marquis de Lafayette’s departure from the United States in 1825; and a 1930 Boston Evening Transcript article about The American Kings portraits on view at the Old Colony Trust in Boston.

Subject Terms

  • Prints shelf.
  • Lithography--19th century.
  • Presidents--United States--Portraits.
Visual Subjects:
  • Abbeys--England--1900-1910.
  • Bridges--England--1900-1910.
  • Parks--England--1900-1910.
  • Cobb, John Doggett, 1840-1930.
  • Doggett, John C., 1780-1857.
  • Morrill, Edward, 1888-1962.
Genre Terms:
  • Advertisements.
  • Autographs.
  • Broadsides.
  • Charcoal drawings.
  • Forms (Documents)
  • Landscape drawings.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   1 [J.51]  
John Doggett & Co. subscription books [series]

Additional Descriptive Data

The Clements Library has created an Index of signatories within the Doggett collection

Related Materials

The Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library has a John Doggett Collection, which includes business correspondence.


Child's Gallery. "Child's Gallery Print Annual." Child's Gallery. Winter 2010.

Cutler, William R. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. Vol. 3. Boston, MA: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908.

Doggett, John. "The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera." Winterthur Library.

Doggett, Samuel Bradlee. A History of the Doggett-Daggett Family. Boston: Press of Rockwell and Churchill, 1894.

The Boston directory. 1825. Boston: Printed and sold by John A. H. Frost and Charles Stimpson, Jr.