Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2012 Issue

Books from the Seattle Library of Robert Denny Watt


Cover image of Denny party landing in Seattle, and, oh my gosh, it's raining!

Restoration Books of Seattle has issued a catalogue of material from the library of descendants of one of that city's earliest citizens: The Pioneer Library of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Denny Watt. Mr. Watt was the great-grandson of Arthur A. Denny, leader of the Denny Party, which traveled to Oregon in 1851, but then kept on going to Puget Sound. They are generally considered to be the founders of Seattle. Arthur Denny became both a government leader and a very successful businessman in his newly established hometown. His great-grandson also would be successful in local business. Robert Denny Watt, who was born in 1912, inherited books from the family collection from his mother and aunt. That collection is heavily concentrated in material related to Seattle, Washington State, and the Pacific Northwest. However, there are also numerous books on a wide variety of subjects totally unrelated to that land. They range from dictionaries and spelling books, to titles about slavery, Lincoln, religion, English Parliament, poetry, French rivers, whatever else might have interested someone in the family at one time or another. Here, now, are a few items from the collection of Robert Denny Watt, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 95.

Since we have mentioned the role in Seattle history of Arthur Denny, we might as well start with an account he wrote: Pioneer Days on Puget Sound. It was published 1888, many years after his arrival. Denny tells of their trip along the Oregon Trail from Illinois. Despite some of the hard luck stories we often hear about these pioneers, the Denny family's trip was, for the most part, smooth and uneventful. Only once did Indians attack, but they were at a distance and their aim not very good. Once the immigrants found cover, their attackers decided to move on. Like most others, Denny planned to settle in Oregon, but a stranger told him about Puget Sound, and Denny was intrigued. Along with family and friends, they took a boat that was headed for gold country, but got off at the Sound, set up a camp, and later moved to the site that would become Seattle. By the time Denny wrote this book, his encampment had become a substantial city. Item 51. Priced at $1,000.

Here is a book by a fascinating character from Oregon Trail and much later days, complete with an interesting Denny family inscription. The title is The Ox Team or the Old Oregon Trail. 1853-1906. The gift inscription is from C.S. Denny to Lenora Denny, cousins rather than direct descendants of Arthur Denny. In it, C.S. Denny says that author Ezra Meeker had made the trip to Oregon around the same time (two years later) as Arthur Denny and that he knew the Dennys of Seattle. This seems likely as Meeker also wrote a book about early days on Puget Sound. Meeker was a hardy man. He made the trip in 1853 by oxcart, and in 1906, as part of a movement to encourage preservation of the old trail, he made the journey by oxcart again. He repeated the feat in 1910, at the age of 80. Meeker would also make the trip by train, automobile, and finally by airplane. He lived to be 98. Item 122. $500.

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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