Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2010 Issue

18th and 19th Century American Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine165

Joe Rubinfine looks at early America.


By Michael Stillman

Joe Rubinfine has prepared his List 165 of American Historical Documents. Anyone with a love for American history will greatly appreciate Rubinfine's catalogue. It is filled with documents written by the people who made America's history, from presidents and generals, to someone on the absolute bottom of the nation's social ladder - a slave woman. The documents in this latest collection primarily cover a century in time - from the late 18th to the late 19th century. From Washington and Lincoln to Kitty the slave, they are all here to recall America as they knew it.

For America's first 30 years of independence, the greatest conflict with, and most egregious wrongdoing by its previous colonial master was the impressment of American merchant seamen into the British Navy. Eventually this nefarious practice would be a major cause of the War of 1812, after which England finally abandoned it. British naval vessels would stop American merchant ships and round up anyone they believed to be a British citizen and conscript them into the Royal Navy. Since they considered anyone born in America before independence still a British citizen, this effectively meant that anyone who spoke English was likely to be taken. Item 25 is a January 28, 1801 letter from John Marshall, then Secretary of State, soon to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to David Lenox, U.S. Agent in London for impressed seamen. In it he encloses proofs of citizenship for several American sailors. When America could prove to British authorities that seized seamen were born in America, they would reluctantly let them go. Priced at $7,000.

Item 21 is a 1785 letter from John Jay, future Chief Justice and all around American diplomat, to John Adams, future U.S. President. The topic was the weakness of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation and the need to strengthen it. It may sometimes be forgotten today when talk of the Constitution often represents an argument for a weaker federal government, that it was written to provide for a stronger national government. Writes Jay to fellow supporter of a strong federal government Adams, "Your letters are I am sure useful and inforce those federal ideas which cannot be too forcibly inculcated or too strongly impressed...it is the duty of her leading Characters to cooperate in measures for enlarging and invigorating it" [federal government]. $15,000.

George Washington was also a great supporter of the new constitution, though publicly he said very little. He felt he should adopt the role of neutral statesman, but in private letters, he voiced his strong support. Item 2 is a lengthy 1788 Washington letter to William Smith expressing his thanks to a group which had presented him with a gift, a miniature (15 foot) boat named the Federalist. Washington offers his profuse thanks and recognition of "American ingenuity," and then notes that Smith's Maryland and Baltimore's views "expressed in their recent decision on the subject of a general Government, will not...be without its due efficacy on the Minds of their Neighbors..." Maryland was strongly supportive of the new Constitution and the government it would create, and he was hopeful this would spur similar support among his less enthusiastic fellow Virginians. Ultimately, the Constitution was passed and survives to this day, but the Federalist sunk in a hurricane a few weeks later. Item 2. $150,000.

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>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</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…
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000

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