Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2012 Issue

American Manuscripts from the William Reese Co.


American Manuscripts.

The William Reese Company is noted for offering rare books in the field of Americana. This latest catalogue is still overwhelmingly Americana, and the items extremely rare as they are unique, but the focus has shifted from books to manuscripts. This is all handwritten material (occasionally a filled-in form), the title being 96 American Manuscripts. No 96 Tears here. This is all exceptional material, and most is not just collectible, but fascinating to read. These are written by witnesses to history, and their observations are perhaps even more interesting to read today. These are a few examples.

Item 4 is a fascinating letter from the founder and Boston patriot Sam Adams, written shortly after independence was secured. It anticipates the division between the more privileged classes of people in America and the ordinary citizens, a division that would lead to the creation of political parties and endless hassles ever since the death of Washington. In this 1784 letter to future Vice-President Eldbridge Gerry, Adams laments George Washington joining the Society of Cincinnati. This society (still in existence today) was formed by American officers of the Revolution, along with their French counterparts who assisted the American cause. The egalitarian-minded Adams is quite concerned about the message – Washington joining a group that denied membership to the ordinary foot soldiers who implemented the officers' plans. Adams remains totally deferential to Washington, not questioning his motives or enormous contributions. Indeed, he explains, “That gentleman has an idea of the nature & tendency of the order very different from mine; otherwise I am certain he would never have given it his sanction. I look upon it to be a rapid stride towards a hereditary military Nobility as ever was made in so short a time.” Sam Adams expresses concern that the sanction of someone so beloved as Washington will unintentionally foster this class division. While praising the American commander, Adams notes, “We ought not however to think any man incapable of error.” Priced at $27,500.

Item 14 is another deeply interesting letter, this one from Delaware Representative James Asheton Bayard, to his cousin Samuel Bayard. If Bayard's name isn't instantly recognizable, his role in the presidential election of 1800 is. In those days, rather than voting separately for president and vice-president, electors voted for the two together. The result was that Thomas Jefferson, the presumptive presidential candidate, and Aaron Burr, the presumptive vice-presidential nominee, each received the same number of votes. The race was thrown into the House of Representatives, where members of the losing Federalist party saw an opportunity for mischief. Intensely disliking Jefferson, they voted for Burr. Jefferson could only carry delegations from 8 states, and 9 were needed. Thirty-five ballots went by this way. Finally, Bayard, who as the lone representative from Delaware, and a Burr supporter for the first 35 ballots, abstained, and helped convince a few others to change their ballots. It resolved what had become an enormous constitutional crisis. It is believed that Alexander Hamilton, an ardent Jefferson opponent who supported him nonetheless, on the grounds that a principled opponent was better than someone with no principles, convinced Bayard. There is also an unproven suspicion that Jefferson agreed not to fire too many Federalist officeholders. In this letter, dated January 30, 1801, less than two weeks before the balloting began, Bayard correctly projects that Burr will get 6 votes, Jefferson 8 (one short of the 9 needed). He fully understands the risks, and writes, “...what increases her [Delaware's] importance has the power of preserving the union from the terrible situation of being without a head.” He also notes that, “One member one way & three the other can turn the scale on either side.” What he could not have realized at the time is that he would be that “one member.” Bayard also has some intriguing comments about the President and fellow Federalist John Adams. His cousin is hoping for an appointment, but Bayard says he cannot make any promises to him. “We know of no scale or even principle of influence with the President. It is harsh to say his appointments are the result of mere caprice, but in fact they are generally unaccountable. Nobody knows who advised nor what motive induced. It is generally thought no one is ever consulted.” $15,000.

Item 11 is what Reese modestly describes as “the greatest Texas letter ever.” Written on February 25, 1836, it comes from the “Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin. Austin had started a colony years earlier with the approval of Mexican authorities, but as American and European immigration increased, Mexico became wary. It was no longer so happy with its guests. Santa Anna was already in Texas by this time fighting rebellious Texians. Austin, long cooperative with Mexico, was now on a mission to seek funding and assistance for the revolution. In this letter, he writes to an old friend, General John McCalla of Kentucky, urging him to come to Texas and bring along 2,000 troops. Austin proceeds to describe the countryside in glowing terms (not sure which part of Texas he was talking about) and how cheap the land is. He then describes McCalla's proposed mission in the most glowing and patriotic of terms. “The timid may shrink, the wealthy may buy their gold & stay at home but bold spirits & philanthropic hearts enough will be found who go to Texas & 'do or die.'” Who could resist an entreaty like this? Apparently, McCalla, as we find him still in Kentucky in the 1840s, and later taking an appointment in Washington from President Polk. $375,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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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