72 Old-time Schools and School-books
other ventures he started a newspaper under the title of Public Occurrences, which was the first newspaper printed in America.
The general plan of the primer sent forth by Harris was old, but the compilation had new features, and its name lent it an aspect of originality. In New England and the neighboring colonies it promptly became an institution. Every home possessed copies, and they were for sale at all the town and village bookshops. Occasionally printers changed the title, and called it The New York Primer, or The American Primer, or The Columbian Primer; but the public preferred the New England title. For a hundred years this book beyond any other was the school-book of American dissenters. Its power waned rapidly later. The cities abandoned it first, and gradually it was neglected in the villages. Still, even in Boston, it was used in the dame schools as late as 1806. Its total sales are estimated to have been not less than three million copies. Astonishingly few of these have been preserved, and early editions are among the rarest of school-books. All issued previous to 1700 have vanished, and only a few score have survived of those that were published during the next century when it was in the zenith of its popularity. The oldest perfect copy known is one printed in Boston in 1735. This was picked up by a Pennsylvania teacher at a farm-house auction in 1893 for twelve cents. Ten years later he sold it to a New York dealer for $2500.
The newspapers heralded this sale throughout the