Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2012 Issue

Rare American Material from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser123

More Rare Americana from David M. Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has published their catalogue number 123 of Rare Americana. This latest selection includes 150 items, generally shorter form printed documents (and a few in manuscript), most of which relate directly to issues of 18th and 19th century America. A few are indirectly related, such as political debates in England which touched on issues in America. As typical of shorter form work, most items touch on an issue of the moment, rather than a look back in time. They put America just as it was in its earlier days on display. Here are a few samples from the catalogue.

Item 2 is John Adams' Twenty-six letters, upon Interesting Subjects, Respecting the Revolution in America. The letters were written by Adams in Holland in 1780, intended to explain the revolution to the Dutch and obtain financial and other assistance from them. These letters were first printed, but not published in 1786, and then again in 1789 (this issue), as they were offered to subscribers, but not to the general public. In his letters, Adams traces the outbreak of problems between England and the American colonies not to the Sugar and Stamp Acts of 1764-65, but earlier to the Writs of Assistance of 1760. These writs allowed authorities to search people's belongings without cause or redress. Colonists had been smuggling goods from countries other than England as this was cheaper, thereby evading British taxation and control of the trade. While not a major issue through most of the colonies, it stirred notable anger in Adams' Massachusetts, which would become the hotbed of the Revolution as the litany of indignities increased. It is interesting to see the anger building so early, as 1760 marked the winding down of the French and Indian War, where the British and the American colonists worked together to defeat their common enemy, the French. Priced at $6,000.

It would take just over a decade for the dispute to turn into violent confrontation, and by May 29, 1776, when A Sermon Preached Before the...Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay was delivered, the colonies were on the verge of declaring their independence. Arguing their right to overthrow tyrannical rule that day was Samuel West, an influential Congregationalist minister from Boston. While acknowledging a general need for the people to submit to the rule of government, he goes on to say, “When a people find themselves cruelly oppressed by the parent state, they have an undoubted right to throw off the yoke, and to assert their liberty.” West would go on to help write the Massachusetts constitution and be a delegate from that state to the federal constitutional convention. Item 138. $1,000.

Item 24 is a Review of the Life of Gen. Sam Houston... By D.G. Burnet, First President of Texas, published in 1852. If you think this is a paean to the life of the great Texan, you are totally mistaken. Burnet, who served as the first (interim) President of the Republic of Texas in 1836, and again in 1841, was a bitter enemy of Houston. Burnet negotiated the treaty with Santa Anna after he was captured at San Jacinto, where the Mexican leader agreed to recognize Texas in return for his freedom. Many Texans were unhappy, instead wishing Santa Anna to be executed, and they must have felt even worse when Santa Anna went back on his word. For whatever reason, Burnet and Houston hit it off poorly. Burnet found Houston crude, the latter thought Burnet bossy and argumentative. The relationship worsened over the years, Burnet twice challenging Houston to a duel (Houston wisely declined the invitation). In 1841, the two ran against each other for President of Texas in a campaign filled with personal attacks. Houston won easily. Eventually, Burnet sought his revenge by publishing this book about Houston, which tears the early Texas leader apart. Time did not heal these wounds. $4,500.

Item 63 is William Griggs' The CelebratedMoon Story,Its Origin and Incidents... published in 1852. It recounts a hoax from 1835 that evidently had a lot of people fooled. Richard Adams Locke, writing in the struggling New York Sun, described the discovery of odd life forms inhabiting the moon. There were upright walking beaver-like creatures, small reindeer, horned bears, and the “Vespertilio-homo,” a flying bat-man. Locke gave credence to his story by claiming the discoveries were made by the noted astronomer, Sir John Herschel, using a new high-powered telescope. Herschel knew nothing of the claims. While the stories did nothing to promote accurate journalism, it did wonders for the Sun, whose circulation increased fivefold. $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>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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