Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2012 Issue

David Lesser Antiquarian Books Offers a New Selection of Rare Americana

Lesser126

Catalogue 126 from David Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has released their 126th catalogue of Rare Americana. It is filled with selections from America's past we have not seen before. Works primarily range from 18th century colonial times to the late 19th century, the concentration mainly being from the Revolution to Reconstruction. A read through the detailed descriptions Lesser provides will leave you with a better understanding of the times, its debates and controversies, as well as a list of fascinating material to consider. Here are some items from this latest selection.

There were three major social causes in the 19th century that brought similar minds together. The rationale for two is still well understood. Abolition, later civil rights, and women's rights led to major changes in society, their importance as obvious to people today as they were to the minority who supported them early in the 19th century. Less well understood today is the third prong – temperance. Support for this movement was equally as strong and vociferous as it was for the others. Perhaps the ruinous effect of alcohol on poorer people was more obvious in those days. Ultimately, the temperance movement would have its victory with Prohibition, but unlike the other two movements, that victory would be short lived. Item 42 is an example of just how dramatic that support was. Published in 1878, Thomas Doner's appeal is entitled, Eleven Years a Drunkard, or the Life of Thomas Doner. Having Lost Both Arms through Intemperance, He Wrote this Book with his Teeth as a Warning to Others. Doner did not lose his arms by lifting too many glasses of drink, but apparently fell under a train while under the influence of too much alcohol. Priced at $125.

Item 52 is a biting satire directed at the southern branch of the Episcopal Church for its tolerance of slavery. Dated October 1, 1856, and claiming to be issued from Charleston, South Carolina (unlikely anyone would have dared print such a pamphlet in Charleston in 1856), the title is Negroes and Religion. The Episcopal Church at the South. Among the deeply sarcastic suggestions for the church, the author offers, “should not provision be made in cases where a parish church needs repair or enlargement, for raising the necessary funds by the sale of a sufficient number of colored communicants?” Instead of “til death do us part” in marriage vows, he suggests, for black congregants, it be “til death, or my owner, his executors, administrators, or assignees, do us part.” $500.

Item 130, also from 1856, provides a warning to waiters about slow service: An Argument in the Case of the United States Versus Philemon T. Herbert, Tried for the Murder of Thomas Keating... Herbert was an ornery congressman from California, an Alabama native whose alleged disrespect for people of a perceived lesser status would play into public sentiment after he shot and killed the Irish waiter Thomas Keating. Herbert came to breakfast late at the Willard Hotel one morning, ordering Keating to serve him “damn quick.” When Herbert became displeased with Keating's service, he demanded a second waiter be called to attend him. Keating replied that one “servant” was enough, and after some shouting, alleged disparaging comments about Keating's ethnicity, and some throwing of plates, Herbert pulled out a gun and shot Keating to death. The prosecutor, Francis Scott Key's son Philip Barton Key, argued the shooting was in cold blood. Keating claimed he was surrounded by hostile hotel employees and shot Keating in self defense. After a hung jury in the first trial, Herbert was acquitted in the second go 'round. Letting a congressman off the hook for shooting someone would set a tragic, and ironic precedence for Mr. Key, who would himself be shot to death by a congressman in 1859 (for allegedly messing around with his wife, and that Congressman was also acquitted). As for Mr. Herbert, his reputation damaged, he did not seek reelection. Instead, he moved to Texas, joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and also died from gunshot wounds, though his were inflicted on the battlefield, rather than the breakfast room. $375.


For men who have trouble understanding women, here is a pamphlet that may help out: Woman Physiologically Considered, as to Mind, Morals, Marriage, Matrimonial Slavery, Infidelity, and Divorce. Author Alexander Walker was a respected physiologist and author in his day, writing a trilogy on women, though much of what he wrote would be considered pseudoscience today. He undoubtedly saw himself complimentary of women, and for his day perhaps he was. His position was that women were possessed of greater instinctive capacities, which made up for their “deficiency of intellectual faculties.” He explained that “love, impregnation, gestation, parturition, lactation and nursing,” which he described as “the principal acts of a woman's life,” are almost entirely instinctive. Perhaps this pamphlet is not such a good way to go about understanding women. Item 177. $175.

In the 19th century, there was much suspicion of secretive fraternal organizations, a belief that they represented a secret, elite group that sought power over regular folks. The Freemasons, with many important members, and very secret rituals, aroused the greatest suspicion. For a while, there was an anti-Mason political party that elected several high officeholders. However, the Odd Fellows, a less exclusive, beneficent organization was not so often a target of these fears. Still, there were exceptions, as expressed in this 1845 (second edition) pamphlet: Odd Fellowship Exposed. It was written by an expelled member of the Exeter, New Hampshire, lodge, who sought his revenge through this pamphlet. Item 117. $375.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

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 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>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Extremely Fine Copy of Fantasy Classic. Tolkien (J.R.R.) <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again,</i> L. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Museum Street) 1937. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Incunabula. [Sirectus, Antonius] O’Fihely (Maurice)Abp. <i>Formalitates de Mente Doctoris Subtilis Scoti Nec Non Stephai Burlifer cum novis additionibus…</i> Venice 14th December 1051 (ie. 1501). €3,000 to €4,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Original Book Illustrations by Pamela Leonard. Illustrations: Regan (Peter) Touchstone, 8vo D. (Mount Salas Press) 1989. €3,500 to €4,500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> [Petit (Jean), Prevel (Jean) & Gregory (Pope)] [Gregorius]. <i>Compendium Textuale Compillationis decretalium Gregorri noni sine qua…</i>, Paris [Dec. 1524]. €350 to €500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Excessively Rare – V. Fine Copy. [Mac Mahon]. <i>Jus Primatiale Armacanum, In Omnes Archiepiscopos, Episcopos, et Universum Clerum</i>… [n.p.] 1728. €750 to €1,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Madden (R.R.). <i>Travels in Turkey, Egypt, Nubia and Palestine in 1824, 1825, 1826 and 1827,</i> 2 vols. 1822. €500 to €700
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Early English Herbal. Gerarde (John). The Herball or General History of Plants, thick folio L. (John Norton) 1597. €700 to €1,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> The Tehran World War 2 Conference Photograph: [Tehran Conference 1943] An important and iconic Group Photograph showing Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. €80 to €120
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Natural History Specimens from Jersey Jersey Islands: Westacton [Mrs Acton] Collection of 53 original dried examples of Seaweed collected in Jersey, c. 1860. €300 to €400
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Plyglot Bible: Hutteri (Eliae). <i>Biblia Sacra, Ebraice, Chaldaice, Graece, Latinae, Germanice, Sclavonice.</i> Lg. folio Nurimberg 1599. €250 to €350
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> The American Invasion 1888: “First Ever G.A.A. Hurling Match in America” Medal: G.A.A., The Invaders, 1888. €2,000 to €3,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> “Babe” Ruth and the G.A.A. G.A.A. & Baseball: A unique and early Sporting Association. An original Spalding B12 Baseball Bat. €4,000 to €6,000

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