Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2004 Issue

More Intriguing Americana From David Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
always gives us an interesting collection of material in the field of Americana. His catalogue 82 of "Rare Americana" is no exception. It is filled with publications that touch on the major issues of their day, which, for the most part, run from the Revolution to Reconstruction. Here are some examples.

Long before there was an interstate highway system, before the US highways, before even the Lincoln Highway, there were wagon roads. In the 1850s, the government set out to build a series of these roads as part of the opening of the west. Pacific Wagon Roads, generated by Albert Campbell, who oversaw this project on behalf of the Department of the Interior, was published as a letter from its Secretary in 1859. Included are maps of several of these roads, including the Fort Kearny and South Pass Road through Nebraska and Wyoming, and the El Paso-Fort Yuma Road from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona. Unfortunately, many of the projects would be put on hold as a result of the looming crisis, which would erupt into the Civil War (Campbell would switch to the Confederate side). Item 31. $350.

William Plumer made an impassioned plea for separation of church and state to a justice committee of the Virginia House of delegates in 1847. It was printed as The Substance of an Argument Against the Indiscriminate Incorporation of Churches and Religious Societies. His fear was that the state would inevitably favor the strongest churches. In something akin to a backhanded compliment, Plumer argues, "To me it is a source of unspeakable pleasure, that I live in a land, where I believe the rights of conscience are most solemnly guaranteed to every human being, however ill informed or perverted his conscience may be on spiritual affairs." What greater show of support for religious liberty could there be than upholding the rights of the "spiritually perverted?" Item 129. $150.

One man who was considered "spiritually perverted" by too many of his fellow countrymen was Thomas Paine. As to what his spiritual beliefs were, that is not clear, but it is clear that he had little use for much of organized religion, at least such as it was in his day. Those views would turn the writer of "Common Sense," the book that in many ways led to the American Revolution, into something of a pariah in his homeland in his final years. It is nice to see that a few decades after his death, he was finally getting some recognition for his contributions to America.

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  • <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>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
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    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
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