Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2013 Issue

Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser130

David Lesser's 130th catalogue of Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has released their catalogue No. 130 of Rare Americana. At a time when many booksellers have cut back on catalogues, Lesser has provided a consistent flow. Perhaps the theory is you can't sell books if people don't know what you have. Interesting idea.

Lesser's catalogues are focused primarily on 18th and 19th century pamphlets and other shorter form material pertaining to America. These are not so much the grandiose works as those that discussed the issues of the day – political debates, theological disputes, legal controversies, the incessant battle over slavery, and the various issues that affected people's day to day lives. These works truly bring us back to the times when America was a young nation, finding its way. Here are some samples.

The Oneida Community opposed slavery, but this pamphlet speaks of a different form of slavery than that most often discussed in 1850: Slavery and Marriage. A Dialogue. This piece was issued anonymously from John Humphrey Noyes' utopian community. It uses imaginary characters in debate to present its point. It makes the case that, “The truth is Marriage gives man the power of ownership over woman, and such power is as wrong and prolific in the case of Marriage, as in that of Slavery.” To the response that the law protects women from violence, the dialogue counters, “As in the case of Slavery, this protection applies only in extreme cases.” Item 170. Priced at $650.

Most Confederates gave in after Lee surrendered, but General Joseph Shelby and about a thousand men, sometimes referred to as “The Undefeated,” would not concede. Instead, they headed for Mexico, where they hoped to find favor with the French installed emperor Maximilian. However, Maximilian had his own problems. Rebels sought to overturn his regime, and Shelby and his men had to fight through them to make it to Mexico City. Those who made it offered their services to the Emperor. Maximilian declined, but did offer them land for a settlement. It did not last. Maximilian was overthrown in 1867, and the unreconstructed rebels were forced to leave Mexico. Item 95 is the only account of this venture by a participant, Shelby's aid John N. Edwards' 1872 book, Shelby's Expedition to Mexico, an Unwritten Leaf of the War. $1,250.

Item 172 is described as the “earliest American work” on comets, and while its author, Andrew Oliver Jr., was a founder of the American Academy of Sciences, we might be content just forgetting some of his theories. Oliver wrote An Essay on Comets, published in 1772, wherein he shows why the tails of comets point to their being inhabited worlds. He correctly points out that comets are not penal colonies where wrong-doers are “condemned to be frozen and burned alternatively.” Glad we got that out of the way. However, he does claim that comets are “so many inhabited Worlds, provided with every necessary for the comfortable subsistence of innumerable inhabitants, rational and irrational, like earth.” Most scientists no longer hold this view, and probably would count Mr. Oliver among the latter category of the innumerable inhabitants. $1,750.

If you have been searching for a memoir of the Brooklyn sewers, your dreams have been answered. Item 37 is the Brooklyn Water Works and Sewers. A Descriptive Memoir. Despite the not entirely appealing title of this 1867 work from the Board of Water Commissioners, it supplies in depth information about the Brooklyn Water Works, including reports on pipes, pumping stations, sewers, water sources, machinery, and the Works' history. It contains 59 lithographic plates. $650.

Item 49 is a collection of children's stories, Choice Tales; Consisting of an Elegant Collection of Delightful Little Pieces for the Instruction & Amusement of Young Persons. It includes such stories as The Discontented Squirrel, The Plum Cake, Remarkable Account of a Lion and a Dog, Indefatigable Labours of the Bee, and Flora and her Little Lamb. If you think that last title must be a ripoff of Mary and her lamb, this book was published in 1800, three decades before Mary appeared. Flora's is a more heart-rending story. A farmer, cruelly taking a flock of chained sheep to market, dumps one that has died off on Flora. Miraculously, the lamb is not dead, and Flora nurses her back to health. The lamb in time repays Flora, not only with affection, but a whole flock of lambs which provide sustenance for her poor family. The moral of the story of Flora's lamb is much clearer than that of Mary's $750.

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 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
  • <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

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions