Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2011 Issue

History, Literature, Manuscripts and More from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins109

South Groton (Ayer) Massachusetts schoolchildren in 1863.

James Cummins Bookseller has published catalogue 109. This is a wonderful collection of mixed material, hard to pin down because of its variety. History and literature are to be readily found, as are many manuscript items - letters, personal accounts, speeches, and the like. Suffice it to say this is fascinating and significant material, definitely worth a look. Here are a few samples.

 

Item 92 contains the signature of a rural farmer, sometimes carpenter, a man who made little mark during his life and died an unknown. It is valuable, not because of Thomas Lincoln's achievements, but because of those of his son, Abraham. Signatures of Thomas Lincoln, who moved around from Virginia to Kentucky to Indiana and Illinois, are rare, as might be expected from an obscure early 19th century farmer. Lincoln was essentially uneducated, but as this document attests, could sign his name. It is a promissory note, and Lincoln has signed as a witness. It is dated 1801, almost eight years prior to the birth of his famous son. Abraham Lincoln was not close, at least emotionally, to his father, who was not warm towards his children, nor appreciative of young Abe's interest in book learning. Thomas was more interested in his son's contributions to the family in the fields. Abe was close to his mother, and after she died, his stepmother, both of whom appreciated his intellectual skills more than did his father. Item 92. Priced at $5,000.

 

What you see pictured on the cover of this catalogue is 62 framed ambrotype portraits of students at the South Groton (Massachusetts) Grammer School in 1863 (fortunately, this was a "grammer" school, not a spelling one). To that is added a large, center portrait of their teacher. Androtype was a film process popular in the 1850s and 1860s whereby a positive image is created on a glass plate, which is sealed in place, usually with a second sheet of glass. The photographer is listed only as "Ross," evidently H.P. Ross, a local photographer at that time. South Groton, also known then as Groton Junction, is today's community of Ayer. Item 139. $15,000.

 

Item 33 is a letter from noted inventor George Washington Carver to a student, Rebecca Caudhill, in response to three philosophical questions. Miss Caudhill has asked such difficult questions as, "Does truth exist only in the abstract," and, "What is necessary to have a knowledge of things." In part of his answer, Professor Carver, a man of deep faith, explains, "…each and all of the above perplexities will be made clear in proportion to the rapidity and the nearness with which we live in accordance with the wish of the "Great Creator"; thus losing the finite and taking on the infinite." And you thought all he did was make things out of peanuts! $1,000.

 

When asked for advice, Vice-President (and future President) Calvin Coolidge, "Silent Cal," was much less complicated. When 18-year-old D.M. Stoner asked for advice on how to live, Coolidge was able to concentrate what to do into a concise nutshell:  "All you need to do is WORK and SAVE YOUR MONEY. Just two things." Actually, the advice was slightly more complicated as Coolidge also recommended Stoner purchase some life insurance. Item 43. $1,250.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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