Recent Acquisitions From the William Reese Co.
By Michael Stillman
The William Reese Company has published its 236th catalogue, entitled either "Recent Acquisitions" or "New Acquisitions" (depending on whether you want to believe the cover or title page). We mention this inconsistency only because booksellers are the first to point out minor differences and errors in editions of the books they sell, and this is only fair play. I have just made friends of thousands of old writers and publishers, all of whom are dead. Once you get past the title page, you will find 214 items of Americana in this catalogue, recent to Reese's collection, but with centuries in the collections of others.
Item 17 is a scathing indictment of religious persecution in the early years of the colonies. George Bishop writes of this period in New-England Judged, By the Spirit of the Lord... The victims were Quakers, and their oppressors the community which had fled to America to escape religious persecution less than 40 years earlier. Beatings and mutilation were the Puritans' response to the group's beliefs. One punishment involved transporting the victims from town to town in a cart, to be publicly whipped for the enjoyment of each town's residents. Cutting off of ears and branding with an "H" for "heresy" were other favored punishments. However, what really set off Bishop was the execution of four Quakers. This would lead to temporary support for the Quakers' rights from King Charles in 1761, and while repressive measures would soon be restored, it did bring an end to the executions. This copy is a second edition from 1703, which included the two parts of Bishop's book (originally published in 1661 and 1667) along with a response to Cotton Mather's "abuses of the said people." Priced at $2,000.
Religious persecution in America wasn't limited to colonial days. The Mormons were forced further and further west from their New York state beginnings before finally being able to settle down in Utah. One stop along the way was Nauvoo, Illinois, settled in 1839. In 1841, founder Joseph Smith had a revelation instructing him to build a substantial hotel. The sale of $150,000 worth of stock to fund the construction was authorized, with sale of stock permitted to "all who believed in the Book of Mormon." Construction was begun that year, and continued even after Joseph Smith was murdered in jail in 1844. However, the project was abandoned when Brigham Young led most of the group to Utah a couple of years later. Possession fell to Smith's wife Emma, who, with her second husband, would build a much smaller structure on the original foundation. It would become their home and the 19th century equivalent of a bed and breakfast. Nauvoo House still stands today, and may be rented for meetings from its owners, the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (but never as "Mormons"). This church was formed in 1860 by followers of Smith who did not follow Brigham Young to Utah, and was originally headed by Smith's son, Joseph III. Item 145 is two stock certificates in the Nauvoo House Association printed in St. Louis for $50 and $100. Priced at $3,000. Item 146 is two certificates of $50 each printed in Nauvoo. $3,000.