Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2012 Issue

48 Varied Items from The Pages of Yesteryear



The Pages of Yesteryear issued a catalogue a little while back with the succinct title 48. It was named, not sequentially for catalogues, but for years in business. This represents their 48th year in business, almost as old as books themselves. The items offered are an unusual mix. There are books and various ephemeral items – letters, broadsides, account books, typescripts and such. These provide a glimpse at life a century or two ago. Times have changed. Let's take a look.

Item 2 is a testament to amazing technological advances at another time of rapid technical change, the turn of the 20th (rather than 21st) century. It is a Souvenir Program of the International Aviation Tournament Belmont Park, Oct. 22-30, 1910. Most people associate New York's Belmont Park with horse racing, but for a few years, that was banned. Instead, for a few days in October, it featured airplane races. Obviously not around the track, but a race went from Belmont around the Statue of Liberty and back. The winning time was 35 minutes. Another race was won by accomplishing an average speed of 61 miles per hour. A record altitude of 9,714 feet was achieved. The program lists the events and competitors and includes several photographs. Among those who participated were Wilbur and Orville Wright. That brings us to what is so amazing about this meet. It took place just seven years after the Wright Brothers' first air flight, a 12-second journey of 120 feet at a speed of 6.8 mph and an altitude of 10 feet. Progress can be astonishing. Priced at $250.

Here is a letter the Wright Brothers might have appreciated. It is a four-page letter from a boy named “Nattie” to his “Dear Papa,” dated March 10, 1878, from Boston. In it, he talks about bicycles. Bicycle manufacturing was the Wright Brothers profession before they moved to aviation. Nattie was impressed by some men riding their “bicicles,” noting, “There is a rubber band goes around the outside of both wheels (rubber tires?)...they don't make a bit of noise...they have a little brake...and the man who rides on it can stop it just as quick as you can wink.” He notes the cost ranges from $80-$150. Item 4. $150.

Dentistry is not a particularly pleasant subject today, but at least it isn't the horror it was in 1875, the time of this dentist's account book. No high speed drills, novocaine, or much else to relieve the horror of a visit. At least Horace Mason Perkins appears to have had a bit of a sense of humor, though perhaps unintentionally, as he described his customers' creditworthiness. Perkins attended the Harvard Dental School in 1898 and received a DDS in 1908 from Tufts, which may make you wonder why he was practicing dentistry in 1875. He also received degrees from the Philadelphia Dental College in 1869 and Boston Dental College in 1870. I have no idea whether he was a good dentist, but at least he was a well-educated one. Among his comments on various customers' credit, he writes such things as “good as gold,” “[pays] cash – nice old lady,” “never known to pay bill,” “Good but doesn't come on time.” For one family he writes, “Look out for the Fox family - no good – especially G P Fox who is a loafer.” As for the “Portuguese from Cohasset,” they are hard to please and will beat you down, but if you stick to your price, they will give it to you. His pricing includes 50 cents for an extraction, but $1 if you want gas or to have it done in your home, $1 for a silver filling but $2-$3 for gold, 50 cents for killing a nerve, and $20 for a full lower plate. Item 14. $250.

Item 38 is a scathing attack on the Union Pacific Railroad from 1869, the year the transcontinental railroad was completed. The author is Chauncey H. Snow, government director for the Union Pacific under President Andrew Johnson. This report is titled Preliminary Report to the President of the United States on the Location, Construction, and Management of the Union Pacific Railroad. He criticizes the “grading, bridges, curves, location, corruption in management and in Congress, and pretty much everything connected to the Union Pacific in his 17 pages,” Pages of Yesteryear tells us. He also mentions Credit Mobilier, the company involved in a major scandal in the just beginning Grant administration. Snow concludes that he knows his report will “bring upon me enmity of persons in high official positions – of persons controlling unlimited capital...but I must do my duty.” A selfless public servant was Mr. Snow. The pamphlet is dated March 10, 1869, but that has been corrected in pencil to read March 5. That is correct, as the report was handed in to President Grant, who took office the previous day, on March 5. The following day, Grant replaced him. However, before getting too sympathetic for the idealistic Mr. Snow, or assuming this is evidence of early corruption in the Grant administration, according to the book Union Pacific by Maury Klein from 1987, Snow produced two reports on the Union Pacific, one favorable, one unfavorable. He was willing to submit the favorable one for the right compensation. When he did not receive it, he submitted the bad one. At various times, Snow reportedly sought cash or a coal supply contract from the railroad, threatening to provide harmful information if he was not paid off. $125.

Tornadoes are nothing new to the Midwest. Last year, we saw the terrible destructive force in Joplin, Missouri, and before that, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Here is a photo account of a similarly terrible storm a century ago: Omaha Cyclone in Pictures, Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913. It was not a happy Easter in Omaha that year. A line of intense storms spawned a series of tornadoes. A very bad one made its way into Omaha. The tornado was not only powerful, but wide, increasing the damage. Houses, including wooden ones from poorer neighborhoods and brick ones from wealthier ones, were destroyed. One hundred fifty people were killed, another 400 injured. This booklet contains 30 pages of pictures, one of text, and one of advertising. Item 32. $75.

The Pages of Yesteryear may be reached at 203-426-0864 or jrenjilian@hotmail.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <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.
  • <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

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