Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2004 Issue

Interesting and Unusual Americana from<br>David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Before Microsoft, even before Boeing, there was a Seattle. Most people don’t know this but it is true. Item 66 from J.W. Dodge is A Wonderful City, Leading All Others in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia: Seattle… The folks in Spokane, Portland, Helena, Boise and Vancouver may not agree with the premise, but this work is based on “authentic information,” and who can argue with that? Published in 1890. $375. Another 1890 promotional for Seattle can be found in Frederick Grant’s Washington the Evergreen State and Seattle Its Metropolis. Item 84. $375.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, the New York Herald published The Cipher Dispatches… in 1879, claiming these coded telegraphs showed that Samuel Tilden tried to buy the electors’ votes in the 1876 election eventually awarded to Rutherford B. Hayes. Certainly it’s odd to think that Tilden was trying to buy the election when in fact he won it, only to have it stolen from him. Item 196. $175.

Which song still sung today was introduced to us in 1831 in Juvenile Lyre: or Hymns and Songs, Religious, Moral, and Cheerful, Set to Appropriate Music? The answer is “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” This piece by Sarah Josepha Hale had been introduced the previous year as a poem, but this is its first appearance as a song. Of course my kids now sing it as “Mary had a little lamb, a little pork, a little ham, and a side of mashed potatoes.” Ms. Hale probably wouldn’t be amused. Item 85. $500.

I don’t know if there were any ulterior motives to John Aiken’s Labor and Wages…, published in the manufacturing city of Lowell, Massachusetts, but the 1849 date is interesting. In it Aiken claims that the wages of labor are increasing. “In no other country has labor been so well remunerated as here,” he says. It is interesting because the “humanitarian” argument being made for slavery at the time was that the southern slaves were better off than the white mill workers of the North, even if the latter were free. This piece would seem to repudiate the high-ground argument for slavery. Item 2. $125.

We’ll close with a topical item considering the recently concluded Tour de France bicycle race. Incidentally, according to a TV report I recently saw, most children, when asked to name the first man to walk on the moon, answered “Lance Armstrong.” Anyway, item 21 is an 1896 directory for bicycles. It is Artman’s Cycle Trade Directory of the United States and Canada… $500.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books is located on the internet at www.lesserbooks.com and can be reached by phone at 203-389-8111.

Rare Book Monthly

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