Log in

Radical Translations

  • Date
  • False: false attribution such as false place of imprint or false date
  • Fictional place: false imprint contains a fictional, invented place of imprint or date
  • Form: type or genre of writing.
  • Female
  • Male
  • Language
  • Noble: person was born noble.
  • Place
  • Role: the main role of a person or organization in relation to a resource.
  • Subject: content, theme, or topic of a work.
  • Uncertainty: information could not be verified.

Robert Bell


  1. Common sense, addressed to the inhabitants of America, on the following interesting subjects: I. Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the English Constitution, II. Of monarchy and hereditary succession, III. Thoughts on the present state of American affairs, IV. Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections has translation publisher
  2. Considerations on the Society or Order of Cincinnati, lately instituted by the major-generals, brigadier-generals, and other officers of the American army. Proving that it creates a race of hereditary patricians, or nobility, interspersed with remarks on its consequences to the freedom and happiness of the republic, addressed to the people of South-Carolina, and their representatives has translation publisher



Born into a Quaker family, Bell apprenticed as a bookbinder in Glasgow before going to work with Samuel Taylor in Berwick-upon-Tweed. He moved to Dublin in 1759 to set up as a bookseller and book auctioneer. Bankruptcy led him to emigrate to America in 1767 where he soon established a publishing house in Third street in Philadelphia. He became a dedicated patriot widely known for publishing Thomas Paine's celebrated 'Common Sense' (1776).

Bell was the first publisher to present a number of popular English works from a wide selection in every genre of in simple and affordable printing and binding. His success in offering inexpensive editions soon compelled other printers to offer similar priced publications.

In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, there was a major paper shortage in the American colonies which grew more serious during that war as the demand for paper increased. Before 1765 most of the paper used by colonial printers and newspapers was imported, while the struggling colonial paper mills, mostly located in Pennsylvania, were not able to meet the demands that emerged during the war. Bell worked with the public to collect rags used in the production of paper, printing advertisements in various Pennsylvania newspapers for the collection of rags along with practical essays on paper making.

Paine had originally intended his work to be printed in the various colonial newspapers in a series of articles, but they were concerned that British colonial authorities would threaten or confiscate their printing operations. On the recommendation of Benjamin Rush, who thought highly of Bell, referring to him as the "Republican printer", and thought him courageous enough to print what became a politically volatile work, Paine turned over his manuscript to Bell. Paine made an agreement with him that if the publication should prove to be an unprofitable venture that he would cover any losses he incurred. To further make the prospect attractive, Paine agreed to give Bell half of any profits realized. Bell set the price of the pamphlet at two shillings per copy. For fear of recrimination, Paine had the first edition of 'Common Sense' published anonymously. It sold very quickly throughout the colonies.

Bell and Paine fell into disagreement about payment and publishing terms over Common Sense which began three weeks after the first advertisement of Paine's work appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal. Bell had claimed that he had not made any profit printing and publishing Common Sense and proceeded to publish an unauthorized edition. The disagreement grew into a controversy between the two which was covered in the local newspapers. Bell's second advertisement in the Evening Post included an attack on Paine's work, while Paine was still an anonymous figure. Paine responded by taking his business to Bell's competitor, the Bradford brothers, William and Thomas, who printed a third edition that included Paine's name on the cover, with a note declaring that Bell's second edition was unauthorized. The third edition became the standard text and contained an appendix, with Paine's “Epistle to the Quakers”. During the course of the affair the attacks on the work and each other's character continued, mostly by Bell.

After the Revolutionary War, Bell became an acclaimed book auctioneer. While on a book-selling trip to Richmond, Virginia, Bell became ill and died there on 16 or 23 September 1784. Shortly after his death, the contents of his shop, which included a printing press were put up for auction. His books and other items sold for a few dollars, while the bidding for his printing press started with Mathew Carey for the modest amount of ten dollars. After fierce bidding between Carey and Colonel Eleazer Oswald, editor of the Independent Gazette, Bell's press was finally awarded to Carey for 150 dollars, the average price for a new press.