Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2013 Issue

Recent Acquisitions in Americana from the William Reese Company

Reese297

Recent Acquisitions in Americana.

The William Reese Company has issued a catalogue of Recent Acquisitions in Americana, with an extended title of with Material from Newly Acquired Collections on American Presidents, Early American Religion & American Artists. While they regularly offer catalogues on other subjects as well, the Reese Company has been one of the foremost dealers in printed Americana for at least three decades. Their catalogues provide a variety of material in the field, ranging from some of the most important items to come to market, to others in the mid-priced range. This latest group of acquisitions fills this niche, running from signed battlefield letters from George Washington, to letters home by an ordinary Civil War soldier. Here are a few of these new items.

It took a Steven Spielberg movie to bring this ancient case back to public attention, but it is a remarkable story in American history. Item 12 is John Barber's A History of the Amistad Captives: Being a Circumstantial Account of the Capture of the Spanish Schooner Amistad, by the Africans on Board... Most everyone knows this story now, how the slaves on the Amistad were captured from Africa, taken to Cuba, and then on to be smuggled into the South. Slavery was still legal at this time (1840), though the capturing of African natives for slavery was now illegal in America. The slaves rebelled, overtook the ship, and attempted to flee. Lacking navigational skills, they ended up off of Long Island, where they were taken to Connecticut and held for trial. The Africans were acquitted. Barber has presented a history of the events and biographies of the men involved. However, this book was not the final say, as the U.S. government appealed the verdict freeing the enslaved Africans to the Supreme Court after this account was completed. Their freedom was later upheld with the aid of representation by former President John Quincy Adams. Priced at $3,000.

One would expect to find opponents of slavery in the North, but in the South? Not vocal ones, anyway. Item 49 is something of a surprise – Poor Peter's Call to His Children and to All Others Who Can Hear and Believe. This work, published from Salisbury, North Carolina, was written by Peter Clemmons, founder of the town of Clemmons in that state. Clemmons had once been a slaveholder, but freed his slaves when he saw the light. He argues against those who live off the labor of black people, and describes those who buy and sell slaves as similar to those who traffic in stolen goods. At his most vehement, Clemmons says, “...many of these proud delicate beings [slaveholders], will go to the bed of the despised negroes, both male and female, and commit adultery, whoredom, and mingle their seed with those they will not suffer to set down at their tables and eat bread with them.” Not gentle words, though accurate. It is amazing that Clemmons could get away with this in the South, but the year was 1812, and the really hardening of positions would come a couple of decades later, when it is unlikely he could have survived saying such things. $4,000.

Not all Northerners were enlightened on the issue of slavery. Samuel F.B. Morse was a noted American inventor, the man who invented the telegraph and the Morse Code. His invention allowed for the instantaneous communication of information over vast distances, moving at the speed of light, rather than the speed of horses. However, Morse's social views were as abhorrent as his scientific ones advanced. He was an adamant supporter of slavery, even during the Civil War, claiming it to be a wise, preordained system with no moral shortcomings. However, if there is someone Morse would have detested more than a black person, then it would have been a black Catholic, or worse yet, a black Catholic Irishman. Morse ran for Mayor of New York in 1835, the year before he developed his telegraph, on an extreme nativist platform. He garnered only a handful of votes. That same year he published this book: Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States. In it he claimed, “That a vigorous and unexampled effort is making by the despotic governments of Europe to cause Popery to overspread this country, is a fact too palpable to be contradicted.” Item 138. $3,000.

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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