Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2013 Issue

Rare Americana From Between Two Wars from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser129

Rare Americana from David Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their catalogue No. 129 Rare Americana. Lesser describes these as “my latest and most interesting acquisitions.” There certainly is some fascinating material here, much of which makes us wonder at how people saw the world in another time. It covers two centuries, but most is concentrated in the period from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Looking at that period, there was no greater internal controversy than that over slavery. The vehemence of its defenders enables us to better understand how half the nation could go to war to defend what today seems indefensible. They saw the world in a very different light. Here are some samples of what you will find inside.

We will start with a truly odd item, a letter from the first president of Liberia, Joseph Jenkins Roberts. If you are wondering why this autograph signed letter is in an Americana collection, Liberia was formed by freed American slaves. Roberts was born in Virginia, a slave whose father, a man named Jenkins, was a Welsh farmer. Roberts, his mother and siblings, were freed when he was a child, and in 1829, he emigrated to Liberia. This letter, from 1850, was written to John H. March, American consul in Madeira. Roberts asks March to convey a message to a Mrs. O'Sullivan that he could not procure a particular rare African bird for her, but that he may be able to send “a bird or two which may probably interest her.” Item 109. $375.

Here is another oddity, a book by an Englishman, but this is a 1795 edition from Philadelphia. Richard Brothers received many messages from God, or at least he believed he did. What he was told was that he was God's nephew and was called on to be Prince of the Jews. Apparently, there were many Jews, survivors of the Lost Tribes of Israel, living in England, only they didn't realize that they were. Brothers would reveal their identities and lead them back to Jerusalem to build the city anew. Surprisingly enough, Brothers attracted a significant following. He must have been a good speaker. Unfortunately, he went too far in his prophesying when he claimed King George III would die and the British Empire be overthrown. He was cited for treason and locked up in an insane asylum. Next, Brothers made one more major mistake. He said that he would be revealed as the Prince of the Hebrews and Ruler of the World on November 19, 1795. Well you all know what happened, or didn't happen, on November 19, 1795. As a result, he lost most of his followers, and languished in an asylum for ten years before being released to the custody of his last follower. He spent the remaining 20 years of his life preparing for his rule in Israel, a day that never arrived. Item 22 is Brothers' A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophesies and Times Particular to the Present Times... and remarkable Things Not Revealed to Any Other Person on Earth... $350.

Here is an example of one of those opinions that helps us understand why some defended slavery so vociferously. It comes form the Chancellor of South Carolina (chief judge) William Harper in 1837: Memoir on Slavery, Read Before the Society for the Advancement of Learning, of South Carolina... Harper had some interesting thoughts to advance their learning. He claims that slavery is, “a principal cause of civilization,” quickly upping the ante to “the sole cause.” For some reason, he concludes “the command of another's labour” forms the “foundations of civilization.” And, he adds, “with no exceptions whatever.” However, this is not nearly the height of Harper's offensiveness. He goes on to justify “licentious intercourse” between master and slave saying it “is less depraving in its effects, than when it is carried on with females of their own caste... The intercourse is generally casual; he does not make her habitually an associate, and is less likely to receive any taint from her habits and manners.” Item 70. $650.

Item 87 is perhaps the only contemporary separate printing of the Alton Lincoln-Douglas debate. Alton is in southern Illinois, a pro-slavery town where an anti-slavery editor was murdered 20 years earlier. This report, which was taken from the Chicago Daily Times, is obviously prepared from a Democratic point of view. It claims, “Lincoln, as usual, tried to suit himself to the locality and to conceal his Abolitionist sentiments...” It notes, evidently disapprovingly, that to Douglas' claim "I would not blot out the great inalienable rights of the white men for all the negroes that ever existed,” Lincoln said that Negroes are covered by the great principles of the Declaration of Independence and slavery is a moral and political evil that should be barred from the territories. Item 87. $2,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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