Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2012 Issue

Rare Latin Americana from the William Reese Company


Rare Latin Americana.

The 296th catalogue from the William Reese Company features Rare Latin Americana. It ranges from the early days of European contact to the end of the 19th century. Through the first three centuries of this period, most of this land was under Spanish control. Then, Spain had some problems with Napoleon and their grip on the far-flung empire began to loosen. Soon enough, the nations of South and Central America would be independent, though challenges would remain, as they do even now. Here are some of the items, many newly acquired, in this latest Reese catalogue.

Item 18 is one of the “foundation works” on the New World, La Historia del Mundo Nuovo... by Girolamo Benzoni. Published in 1565, it is the first work based on personal observation of the New World by a non-Spaniard. Not much is known about Benzoni. He came from Milan and spent 14 years in Spanish America. Why he chose to go there or what he did is unclear, though he clearly was involved in mercantile activities. The Spanish, who didn't much appreciate foreigners in their midst, probably made it hard for Benzoni to conduct business, and it led to his strong dislike for them. His work is highly critical of the Spanish, and if some of it may have been motivated by revenge, his criticism was well-founded. He denounces their brutal treatment of the Indians and the importation of African slaves. He provides much information about the natives at a time before they were totally changed by European influences. He also provides early accounts of native plants, including the use of tobacco, chocolate, and banana trees. Priced at $28,000.

Melchor Calderon provides a discussion of slavery of native Indians, its pros and cons, in his book Tratado de la importancia y utilidad que ay en dar por esclavos a los indios rebelados de Chile. Today, we wouldn't have much trouble identifying the winner of this debate, but this tract was written around 1601. It was addressed by Calderon to the Viceroy of Peru. On the pro side, he says that traditionally military victors are compensated by the the award of slaves, and some of these Indians were particularly violent. On the other side, he notes that it is hard to distinguish which Indians were fighting the Spanish and which were not, and that many have displayed their obedience to church and crown. Item 31. $22,500.

It would take 300 years, but early in the 19th century, events rapidly began to cause the Spanish rule of America to crumble. The primary cause was a Frenchman named Napoleon. In 1808, he invaded Spain and took control of the government. It left a power vacuum in America, which, as we know from the Louisiana Purchase, was not Napoleon's prime concern. In 1810, a revolution took place in Caracas, and the French/Spanish viceroy was overthrown. Item 174 is a broadside proclamation by Francisco Rivas y Galindo from April 20, 1810. He announces the revolution and calls on the other provinces of Venezuela to join them. Interestingly, these early days weren't quite so independence-minded as one might think. The call for revolution was made in the name of the exiled Spanish Cortes and the captive king Ferdinand VII as the legitimate ruler of Spain (Napoleon had placed his brother Joseph in charge of Spain). However, it would not be long before many of the revolutionaries would seek total independence, and even after Spain was freed of Napoleon, it never regained full control over Latin America. Independence would come throughout the land by the 1820s. $20,000.

Item 21 is a broadside of Simon Bolivar's resignation as President of Gran Columbia, the predecessor of what is today Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, and part of Peru. It is dated February 6, 1827, and is headed El Presidente de la Honorable Camara del Seando. There was much in the way of instability in the government at the time, and to relieve these pressures, Bolivar offered to resign. Bolivar notes that there are suspicions that he plans to become a dictator, so to alleviate these concerns, he, like George Washington, will voluntarily leave office. The Congress declined to accept Bolivar's resignation, and Bolivar would later proclaim himself dictator for life, though this would be from beneficent motives, not a lust for power, as we shall see with the next item. $17,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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