Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2010 Issue

The Unusual from Garrett Scott, Bookseller

Scott29

The deadly Mrs. Walters on the cover of Garrett Scott's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Garrett Scott, Bookseller, has released Catalogue Twenty-nine, A Miscellany. The Ann Arbor based Scott specializes in the unusual. His books, pamphlets, and ephemera almost always meet one of the two standard meanings for "unusual," either uncommon or strange. You will not find much from Whitman or Longfellow in a Scott catalogue. However, if your tastes run to Richard Griffin, the early 20th century New York "poet" whose works may not be as well acclaimed as those of the previously mentioned gentlemen, but are infinitely more entertaining, this is your place. There are three books here from Griffin. Now for some of the material offered.

Richard Griffin certainly must qualify as one of the best of the worst when it comes to poetry. Griffin was not the standard "bad poet," such as England's legendary William McGonagall who wrote about serious topics of the day in the apparent belief that as long as the words rhymed, nothing else mattered. Griffin makes the transition from mere bad to very strange. As such, it's hard to discern whether he was pulling our leg or was a raving lunatic. Perhaps the best answer is that he was both. The total absurdity of some of his poems, and the strange but amusing photographs he took of himself, makes one think there was a joke here, or perhaps he was part of the dada movement of his day. On the other hand, such intentional absurdity is usually self-promotional, and Griffy never succeeded in promoting himself very well. His books were not bestsellers; he never achieved any recognition. His poems were self-published as no one else would touch them and his life is veiled in obscurity. He was apparently born in 1857, published and probably wrote his poetry from around age 60 and up (it is unclear what he did before then), put out his last book in 1931 (he would have been 74 then), and disappeared from history. Where or when he died is unknown (Griffin's pictures can be seen on the next two pages of this review).

Item 40 is Griffin's The Lobster's Gizzard and Other Poems, published by the author in 1916. Along with the title piece, it contains such entries as Water on the Brain, The Woman Without Any Ears, The Round-Shouldered Licker, and The Latter Day Saint, an ode to multiple marriage:

"The first girl I married, sweet Lulu,
Oh my! Such a dumpling, one corker,
High stepper, stuck up like a Zulu,
But also a nice little porker."

The title piece, Scott explains, is a tale of a man encouraged by a wizard to consume the gizzard of a magical lobster. One thing we learn from this poem is that there are several words that rhyme with gizzard - wizard, lizard, blizzard. Griffin uses them liberally. $150.

The charming young lady on the cover of this catalogue is Ann Walters, the lead character in the Confession of Ann Walters, the Murderess! Walters was a most evil woman, a tavern keeper on the Delaware-Maryland border. She did away with her husband and a baby, and then began running a gang of killer-thieves who did the same to some of the travelers who stopped at her tavern. It was all a very sensational tale, which lacked for but one thing - the truth. There was no Ann Walters, but why let truth stand in the way of a good story? Item 100. $450.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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