Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2012 Issue

Important Historical Material from the Raab Collection


Important material is offered by the Raab Collection.

The Raab Collection recently issued a new selection of historical material, Catalog 71. These are, for the most part, signed historical documents, though there are a few not amenable to such a description, such as a swath of cloth from Martha Washington's dress, the tape recording from Air Force One the day President Kennedy was assassinated, or a strand of hair from British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (the latter is, however, taped to a signed letter from American abolitionist Gerrit Smith). This is material from important players in American and world history, with many of the documents themselves being of substantial historical importance. Here are some examples of what is to be found in this latest catalogue from the Raab Collection.

Item 8 is an eyewitness account of one of America's greatest military victories on home soil, and perhaps the greatest military victory ever in a war that was already over. Near the end of the War of 1812, late December of 1814, the British entered Lake Borgne, near New Orleans, overwhelming the small American flotilla defending it. It was to be the starting point of a land invasion on the city shortly thereafter. The British thought they had the upper hand when they attacked on January 8, 1815, but their plans went terribly awry. Attacking across open fields, they were not prepared for the heavy gunfire from the rag-tag defenders of Andrew Jackson. Enormous numbers of British soldiers became casualties, often fatalities. Most of the British senior officers were gunned down, leaving the soldiers leaderless, often frozen in place. Finally, they were forced into a full-scale retreat, their mission in ruins. The following day, Laura Florian, a resident of New Orleans, wrote a lengthy letter to Lydia Roosevelt, the wife of Nicholas Roosevelt (she was a great aunt of the not-yet born President Theodore Roosevelt). She describes in great detail the heroism of the defenders, including those who attempted to defend Lake Borgne earlier, and those who overwhelmed the British in the Battle of New Orleans. She also describes the carnage - “Pirogues and carts have since yesterday morning been incessantly employed in bringing in the wounded prisoners and have not yet concluded the painful task.” Prisons had to have their inmates moved elsewhere to take in the flow of British soldiers. Of course, the ultimate irony of this battle is that the British and Americans had agreed to a peace treaty on December 24, 1814, but communications being so slow at the time, neither side was aware. Priced at $15,000.

Robert Livingston already had a long career as a patriot, dating back before the Revolution, and a public servant thereafter when President Jefferson tapped him for the most important mission of his career. Jefferson was aware that Napoleon had his hands full with the British, and he did not want to see that conflict spill over to the borders of the United States. He also wanted to assure free navigation of the Mississippi. So, he sent Livingston to France to make an offer to Napoleon – he wished to purchase New Orleans, and the U.S. was prepared to pay $10 million to effect the deal. However, on his own, Livingston decided to feel out Napoleon as to whether the latter might be interested in an even larger deal. His timing was perfect. Preoccupied with the British on the continent, and a successful native rebellion in Haiti, and not wishing to have to defend the Louisiana Territory as well, Napoleon offered it all to Livingston. For an additional $5 million, Livingston was able to put together a deal for the entire Louisiana Territory, a purchase which instantly doubled the size of the United States. In 1804, his mission complete, Jefferson sent this letter to Napoleon, It's his official notice that Livingston has resigned as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States as he desired to return home. Raab notes that there is one other copy of this letter known, the explanation being that in the days of long sea voyages and sinking ships, the President likely would have sent three or four copies overseas to be sure that at least one reached its intended destination. Item 18. $75,000.

In 1872, twenty years removed from the White House, former President Millard Fillmore looked back on his life with surprise and satisfaction: “I was just an apprentice with little hope of being anything but a mechanic, yet fortune has given me what I never anticipated in worldly honors or dared hope for.” Indeed, fortune raised Fillmore from obscure nobody to an obscure U.S. President, a name known more for being forgotten than for the man's accomplishments in office. He was serving in the hardly high profile position of Comptroller of New York when he was chosen by the Whig Party to be Zachary Taylor's running mate in the 1848 election. Taylor was a popular hero of the Mexican War, but a southerner and a slaveholder. The party wanted a northerner for balance, but not one who would offend the South. The unknown Fillmore was a perfect fit. Of course, no one imagined that Taylor would die in office after little more than a year, putting Fillmore in the presidency just as the addition of new land obtained through the Mexican War was driving North-South divisions to the boiling point. Unlike the strong-willed Taylor, Fillmore tried to compromise his way out of the mess, with the eventual result being that the situation got even worse. Nevertheless, in fairness to Fillmore, one would have to say he was the best president of his decade, the 1850s, a tribute more to the ineptitude of the two presidents who followed him than to Fillmore's accomplishments. Item 1 is a letter Fillmore wrote to an old friend in 1872, two years before he died. He looks back on his life pleasantly: “My life, upon the whole, has been a very happy one...” Almost his only grief, he says, is “the loss of relatives and friends.” He says he is ready to go when called, and hopes for God's blessings in eternity. “I feel that my work here is done, and others more competent will soon fill my place.” Actually, the presidents who followed at this time weren't all that much more competent than Fillmore, at least until Lydia Roosevelt's grand nephew showed up. $8,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <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>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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

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