History of the City of Altoona and Blair County

James H. Ewing


Excerpt from History of the City of Altoona and Blair County: Including Sketches of the Shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Co

A book without a preface is considered incomplete. So is a ship without a figure-head. In either case the affixture is more ornamental than useful A book without a preface is nevertheless a book, and a ship without a figure-head is nevertheless a ship. Notwithstanding this, in conformity to a custom which has existed from time immemorial, and remembering that custom makes law, and that law must be obeyed, we submit the following preliminary remarks:

Before commencing the preparation of a history of any particular locality, a city or county for instance, the custom has been to call upon leading citizens, and particularly property owners, for contributions of money to aid the project, the presumption being that the publication cannot fail to result in benefit to the community. No one designing to assume the position of publisher, unless he has more wealth than he knows how, otherwise, to dispose of, or is a literary gentleman of "elegant leisure," fond of seeing his name in print, feels like solely depending upon the income derived from the sale of the book as remuneration for the expenditure of time, money and labor to which he would subject himself; for it must be remembered that the sale of Such a book, with but trifling exceptions, is confined to the immediate locality in which it is published, and, consequently but a limited number is demanded. When contributions have been obtained, unless very liberal, the price of the book is generally fixed at double the amount charged for publications of corresponding size, quality of paper, binding, etc., and thus placed beyond the reach of many of the poorer classes.

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