Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2012 Issue

Rare and Unexpected Items from Extant Americana

Extant1

Margaret Bourke-White's photo of Fort Peck Dam on cover of first Extant Americana catalogue.

This month we review the first catalogue from Extant Americana of New York City: Catalogue One. Naturally, the American material in this catalogue is “extant,” but it is the implication of rarity in that term that best explains the items offered. These pieces still exist, but their existence is unusual and surprising. They are usually one-of-a-kind or short run items that you would not readily expect to find, or perhaps even think still existed. But... here they are! We only have space to mention a few of the items you will find in this catalogue, but hopefully it will provide a flavor of the type of material Extant Americana has waiting.

We will start with that stark photograph you see on the cover of the catalogue. It looks like a medieval fortress, but actually it is far more peaceful. It is the dam at Fort Peck, Montana, a massive project built by the Army Corps of Engineers during the Depression. It created jobs for over 10,000 workers, while its lasting legacy is hydroelectric power, flood control, and a huge lake. The photographer was Margaret Bourke-White. Bourke-White had been the first western photographer allowed to photograph Soviet industry. In 1936, Henry Luce hired her to provide photography for his newly revamped Life Magazine, which would feature pictures. This photograph of Fort Peck Dam appeared on the cover of the first issue of the new Life Magazine. This copy of the photograph was inscribed by Bourke-White in the 1950s to John Bryson, a fellow photographer at Life at the time. Item 162. Priced at $15,000.

Republicans evidently had different beliefs a century ago. Item 140 is a 1912 letter from President William Howard Taft to a Mr. Glaser, expressing his regret at being unable to attend a “Ratification Banquet.” He is sorry he will not be able to “rejoice” with them. The celebration was over the (not quite) ratification of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, an amendment that the Republican Taft introduced and championed. That was the amendment that made the federal income tax legal. It received the final state vote necessary for ratification the following year. $3,000.

Item 3 is a poster of one of America's uglier practices a couple of centuries ago. It announces Sale of Valuable Negroes & Land. It's from a slave sale that took place on January 11, 1858, in Germanton, North Carolina. This was an estate sale of the late Dr. William W. Stedman, and it included “14 Likely Negroes,” including “girls and boys, men and women.” It goes on to point out that, “These are a choice lot of negroes, and among which are some GOOD COOKS and NURSES.” In this case, the “likely Negroes” reference would have been used to mean suitable, not that they were most likely Negroes, but maybe not. Such a maybe not claim would have struck fear in many a white heart. $2,750.

Item 5 is a carte-de-viste of some African Americans, and some of them are less likely Negroes, but in the more common usage of that term. It is titled Learning is Wealth. Wilson, Charley, Rebecca & Rosa, Slaves from New Orleans. It depicts a black man and three slave children. The three children are evidently mixed race, very light skinned, who could readily pass for white. The card states that proceeds will “be devoted to the education of Colored People in the department of the Gulf.” This would have been published during the Civil War, as no one would have been raising funds to educate black children in New Orleans prior to Union soldiers taking over. At the time, it was not uncommon to use pictures of very light skinned blacks as such were more likely to arouse sympathy from whites. $650.

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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