Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2004 Issue

A Catalogue of Colonial Americana<br>From the William Reese Company

Smith

Captain John Smith


By Michael Stillman

America’s colonial period is a relatively overlooked time among collectors. There were no great wars like the Revolution or the Civil War. The French and Indian War was about the best the period could muster. There were no presidents to collect. There was no great westward expansion to report upon. There were few great American writers, scientists, explorers, or other cultural icons to accumulate. The one exception here would be clergy, but clergymen rarely generate the excitement of presidents and other celebrities. And, of course, there was much less material printed back then.

Nevertheless, the William Reese Company has put together a catalogue of 190 items primarily from what would become the United States of America before there was a United States of America. From early settlements to theological disputes, Indian captivities, and disagreements with the British leading up to the Revolution, it’s all here in “Colonial Americana,” Reese’s 230th catalogue.

One of the earliest and most important works about North America in English is John Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England…1584 to this Present 1624. What immediately jumps out, besides Smith’s strange spelling, is that this book was published just four years after the arrival of the Pilgrims, and this came years after most of the events described. Smith was a leader of the pre-Pilgrim Virginia settlement, and is something of a controversial figure. Some believe he was prone to exaggeration if not downright fabrication in his writings. The question of whether he was actually saved by Pocahontas will probably never be answered with certainty. Still, Smith was a leader of the Jamestown settlement and provides the most authoritative eyewitness account you’ll find. Item 158. Priced at $125,000.

Almost as early a title is Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan or New Canaan, published in 1637. Morton sailed to New England in 1622 and quickly found himself at loggerheads with the Puritans of Plymouth. He did not share their austere religious sentiments. He went on to form his own settlement, called “Ma Re (Merry) Mount” in present day Quincy, Massachusetts. His Puritan neighbors could not tolerate the drinking, cavorting with native women, and general good times that went on in his settlement, so Morton was exiled back to England. He would return, be exiled again, return again, and finally move to what is today Maine for the final years of his life. Though unsuccessful at reforming the Massachusetts colony in his lifetime, he would probably be pleased to see the action down at the Water Works and Marina Bay in Quincy today. While exiled to England, he would produce this book, which would give detailed and sympathetic accounts of the native Indians, promote the potential of New England to old England, and retell the stories of his battles with the Puritans. Item 117. $50,000.

Carolina histories may not be quite as old, but John Archdale’s A New Description of that Fertile and Pleasant Province of Carolina does date to 1707. Archdale served as Colonial Governor from 1695-1697 and has been credited with introducing the cultivation of rice to the settlement. What would Carolina be without Carolina rice? This book describes attempts to build industry and agriculture in the colony and describes the local Indian population. Item 5. $20,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

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