• <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Announcing the Fall 2016 Auction Season
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 1:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b> Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 10:</b> 19th & 20th Century Literature
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Colored Plate Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 17:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 1:</b> Art, Press & Illustrated Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 29:</b> Illustration Art
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 3:</b> Old Master Through Modern Prints
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2006 Issue

April 18, 1906

Sf.1906

San Francisco survived the earthquake, only to be destroyed by fire.


To the west the stony Shawangunks discouraged development beyond the first ridge line. There Mohonk Mountain House, already a famous hotel, towered six stories over its private lake, lost to view from New Paltz that faced the granite outcropping of Paltz Point atop the eastern slope. South six or so miles another hotel, Minnewaska Mountain House, commanded an even more imperial setting on the same ridge line, its lake larger and deeper and at ten thousand acres, a larger wilderness preserve.

In the New Paltz village of 1906, sidewalks, a sign of civilization and progress, were a local campaign issue championed by Ralph LeFevre who was both editor of the New Paltz Independent and President of the Board of Academy Trustees that held rights of rescission on the Normal School property should the state abandon its commitment. Bicycles were a recent mania and the first movie to be seen in town had flickered on a local screen only eight years earlier. Brodhead Driving Park, a local attraction, was home to horse races in the summer. Theodore Roosevelt was president, having succeeded to office upon the death of William McKinley in 1901, and had gone on to win a second term in 1904 defeating Alton B. Parker, a Democrat and New Paltz Normal School Board member, who maintained a home in nearby Esopus. The place was alive and for a few may have seemed the center of the world.

The town was also prepared for fires with the firehouse located on Front Street just a few steps from Main. The equipment had names if not substantial size: Star Hose Company and Ulster Hook and Ladder. Pulling the fire apparatus to the Normal School took just a few men a few minutes. The scale of the equipment however did not on that Tuesday morning match the ambitions of the gathering fire which found the building's oiled floors the fuel it craved. Even as first the village fire bell and then the Electric Light Plant alarms were sounding the fire was assuming control and within an hour the battle was lost. For the second time in 22 years the community's investment in education was destroyed by fire. The Normal School's predecessor, the New Paltz Academy, burned to the ground in 1884.

By 8:13 am EST on the morning of the 18th as the ashes in New Paltz smoldered, in San Francisco it was 5:13 am PST and its tectonic plates were beginning a 48 second shift into history. In moments the population was jolted into awareness of the now ongoing monumental earthquake. On that day San Francisco would mostly come through the quake but succumb to fire in the days that followed.

News of the New Paltz disaster traveled fast if not far. The Kingston Freeman, then an afternoon paper, headlined "Fire Destroys The New Paltz Normal School - Explosion of a lamp the cause of the flames." In Newburgh the Daily News lead off with "The New Paltz Normal is Destroyed by Fire." In these cases and others the San Francisco earthquake made it into the same editions and in some cases pushed the Normal School fire story off the front page. The Poughkeepsie Eagle, which didn't cover the earthquake until the 19th, had the fire as its lead on the 18th. The timing was essentially identical but the scale of disaster not. In the New Paltz fire the loss was put at $100,000, in San Francisco forty million. In New Paltz no lives were lost, in San Francisco 400 were known dead and another 600 would later be identified.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, Chicago, 1968). <i>Collection of papers of John M. Bailey, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concerning the convention</i>. Various places, 1968.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (ARMSTRONG, NEIL.) VERNE, JULES. <i>A Trip to the Moon.</i> New York: F. M. Lupton, September 9, 1893. Signed by Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> KEY, FRANCIS SCOTT. <i>A Celebrated Patriotic Song, the Star Spangled Banner.</i> 1814.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, Amerigo Vespucci ..] Bernardus Albingaunensis .. Dialogo nuperrime edito Genue in 1512.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (WATKINS, TABER &c.). <i>An album of 32 photographs of the Yosemite and American West Various places</i>, c. 1890s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BATTLE OF CONCORD.) <i>Powder horn used by Minuteman Oliver Buttrick at the Battle of Concord</i>, April 19, 1775.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (CIVIL WAR.) <i>An Extraordinary Confederate Photograph and Autograph Album of Dr. R. L. C. White</i>, 125 original mounted salt prints. 1859-61.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WARREN, JOSEPH. Letter Signed ("Jos Warren") as Chairman of the Committee of Safety. Cambridge, MA, June 4, 1775.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, NY: [for the Author], 1855.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> JEFFERSON, THOMAS. Printed Broadside Signed ("Th: Jefferson") as Secretary of State. Philadelphia, February 12, 1793.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> CELLINI, BENVENUTO. 1500-1571. Autograph Letter Signed ("Beto. Cellini"). [Florence, c.1566].
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Autograph Manuscript. [c.1795].
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> DICKENS, CHARLES. Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> REED, JOHN. To the Honourable House of Representatives of the Freemen of Pennsylvania this Map of the City and Liberties of Phiadelphia With the Catalog of Purchasers is Humbly Dedicated.... [Philadelphia]: engraved by James Smit
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> ELIOT, THOMAS STEARNS. The Waste Land. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions