Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2011 Issue

Politics from the Left and Farther Left from Lorne Bair

Bair13

A typical capitalist graces the cover of Lorne Bair's latest catalogue.

Lorne Bair has issued Catalog 13: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Art & Ephemera. While a title like that might imply any topic of material could be found, Bair's catalogues are very subject specific. The material almost always is political, and primarily from the viewpoint of the left, from traditionally liberal to outright radical. That is not to say there are no works from the other side of the spectrum. Bair offers a few, but in terms of overall numbers, this catalogue is about as “fair and balanced” as a Fox News broadcast. Material relates to the issues that have been the focus of the left for over a century, workers' and labor rights, civil rights, women's rights, anti-war from the Vietnam era, but pro-support of the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War, utopian communities, socialism, communism, rather naïve belief in the democratic ideals of the Soviet Union in its early days, anti-colonial revolution, freedom from traditional sexual mores, and anarchism. Some of it may sound quaint, overblown, predictable repetitions of what we would today call “talking points.” Still, the pains of struggling, often beaten-down common people are hard to ignore, and those issues have never gone away, particularly in these recessionary times. This is a catalogue filled with voices rallying the “people,” and standing up to corporate interests, from back in the days before we realized that corporations are “people” too.

Item 45 is a 1957 publication from the Georgia Commission on Education headed, Highlander Folk School. Communist Training School, Monteagle, Tenn. The self-styled “Commission on Education” was formed by the state of Georgia in 1953 in response to the Supreme Court decision banning segregation of schools. Its purpose was to uphold segregation, and promote Georgia's view on the subject to the rest of the nation. The Highland Folk School was formed in nearby eastern Tennessee to promote equal rights and integration, and served as a training school for some of the best known leaders of the Civil Rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and Rosa Parks. Since the outright racism behind the Georgia Commission on Education and organizations like it could not be expected to play very well in the North, the modus operandi of such groups would be to label civil rights workers as “communists.” In the heat of the Red Scare era of the 1950s, that was considered a sure way to make people hate anyone who worked for civil rights. This piece is signed in print by Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, a virulent segregationist devoted to stopping the integration of schools. $300.

Item 89 presents a surprisingly blunt plea for racial and ethnic tolerance at the end of World War II from the son of Italian immigrants who, though still a young man, had achieved enormous popularity as a teen-idol singer – Frank Sinatra. This piece is a 1946 reprint from Magazine Digest, headed Let's Not Forget We're All Foreigners. In blunt language we normally don't like to repeat, save for the good intentions of Sinatra in using them, the singer explains, “...when I was going to school over in Jersey, a bunch of guys threw rocks at me and called me a little Dago. I know now why they used to call the Jewish kids in the neighborhood 'kikes' and 'sheenies' and the colored kids 'niggers'...” Such a bold statement certainly must have been risky for Sinatra, but obviously it did not harm his very successful career. $250.

Item 66 is a biography of a man hardly beloved on the left, though perhaps he was not as bad as most of his contemporaries. The title is John D: A Portrait in Oil. John Winkler's 1929 biography could only be about oil baron John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller was a shrewd businessman who managed to corner the world market for oil, a resource in rapidly increasing demand in the late 19th century. He could be a cutthroat competitor, although he often bought out competitors for prices that would make them wealthy too. Along the way, Rockefeller became a billionaire, in today's dollars probably the richest American ever. However, his monopoly control of this highly demanded resource turned Rockefeller into perhaps the most despised man in America by the turn of the century. Eventually, his Standard Oil would be broken apart by the government, divided into many smaller (though hardly small) companies. Since Rockefeller retained his share in each, it had no effect on his enormous wealth. Rockefeller retired early, and lived to be 97. It afforded him plenty of time to make amends to the public, and he spent the remainder of his life operating foundations that made enormous charitable gifts to worthy causes. Hence, Rockefeller concluded his life with a mixed reputation, part very good, part very bad. This biography added a neat touch to the cover. A circular hole is cut on the front cover at the location of the hand in Rockefeller's image. Placed inside the hole is a dime. Rockefeller used give out dimes to people he would meet, not a major sacrifice for a billionaire, but then again, a dime could actually buy something during his lifetime, which concluded in 1937. $350.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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>

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