Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2014 Issue

Western Americana from the William Reese Company

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Western Americana.

The William Reese Company has issued a catalogue of Western Americana, their catalogue number 309. It contains all new material for the firm, acquired in 2013. It includes a mix of books and one-of-a-kind manuscripts and photographs. The great majority of items are from the 19th century. There was not much written about the area prior to the 19th century, while later material is not quite “Old West” western Americana, hence the concentration from the 1800's to early 1900's. The works offered are historic, significant, and desirable to anyone fascinated with the American West in its youth. Here are a few samples.

 

We start with a remarkable letter written by Sam Houston in 1855. Houston was a Texas senator at the time he wrote to fellow Texas Senator Thomas J. Rusk. Houston was seeking the nomination of the Know-Nothing Party, then at the peak of its very brief run as a serious contender. While noted for its nativist, anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic positions, the party was surprisingly moderate on the slavery issue. Houston represented a slave state, and was a slaveowner himself, and yet this letter finds him on his way to Boston to speak to the Boston Anti-Slavery Society. Rusk had sent Houston a warning that speaking to this group would be harmful to his political aspirations, but from his train Houston writes, “...I must go on. Under like circumstances Gen. Jackson would have done so. To be honest and fear not is the right path. I would not conceal an honest opinion for the Presidency... I know well it is a risk, but it is for the harmony of the Union, if perchance I benefit it.” Houston did not get that chance, as the Know-Nothings selected a safer candidate, former President Millard Fillmore. However, Houston would remain loyal to the “harmony of the Union,” being removed from his office as Governor of Texas in 1861 when he refused to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy after opposing secession. Priced at $6,750.

 

Item 118 is a Mexican War letter which also contains some very interesting political observations. It was written by William Wallace Smith Bliss to a fellow soldier, Ethan Allen Hitchcock. It is dated July 23, 1846, from Matamoros. Bliss was evidently serving on General Zachary Taylor's staff at the time. He provides some details of the fighting and other conditions in Mexico, but what is perhaps most intriguing is Bliss' opinion of Taylor's presidential ambitions. Taylor was the ultimate reluctant candidate. He expressed no interest in the presidency, and claimed he had never even voted, but his growing popularity made him a desirable candidate for either party. He would eventually agree to run as a Whig in 1848, though he expressed little interest in their programs and did little to support them after he was elected. His popularity came from the belief that he was a man of principle, rather than politics, and by essentially taking no public stands on the issues of the day, managed to avoid seriously offending voters either North or South. In 1846, Bliss accounts that Taylor was already receiving a steady flow of letters urging him to seek the presidency. Based on his observations, Bliss is convinced Taylor will not do so. Writes Bliss, “The General is pestered with all sorts of presents and complimentary letters... But his greatest torment is the Presidential question... He replies to all these (I believe, for I am happily rid of this part of the correspondence) that he has no views to the Presidency – that he is opposed to the elevation to that office of any military chief – and that above all he does not wish his name used in any such connection while operating in the field, as it might inspire the Govt. with distrust and impair his usefulness. Depend upon it, he has no higher ambition than to retire to the bosom of his family. I cannot believe that he will suffer himself to be brought forward as a candidate under any circumstances.” Wrong! $2,850.

 

Next up is one of the more recent items in this catalogue, a photo album with the manuscript title Souvenir of a Pleasant Month. It was compiled by Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Riker of California. They had engaged on a road trip through California and Arizona. This was no longer the Old West, but the beginning of the New West, as the Rikers traveled by automobile rather than horse. Nonetheless, it would have been primitive, and perhaps not so “pleasant” by today's standards. They traveled during 1915, when roads were still mostly primitive. The Lincoln Highway had only just connected East and West a short time earlier. The album includes photographs of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, including 15 of the 1915 San Diego Exposition. They head north and visit Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz and Palo Alto. In San Francisco, they snap photographs of the buildings of the Panama Pacific Exhibition. Another 50 photos capture a camping trip to Yosemite. They also move on to Arizona where they photograph the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. Item 26. $950.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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