Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2014 Issue

American Manuscripts from the William Reese Company



The William Reese Company has released their 310th catalogue, American Manuscript Archives, Journals & Narratives. Actually, there is a bit more, as Reese points out that the catalogue includes, “speeches, journals, original artwork, photographs, original manuscripts of published books, watercolor albums, ledgers, research notes, diaries, maps, letter books, sketchbooks, log books, scrapbooks, surveyors’ notes, autograph letters, minute books, extra-illustrated books, official reports, account books, manuscript memoirs, collections of drawings, student notebooks, muster rolls, treaties, and poems.” Anywhere in the Americas is fair game, though Reese notes that the great majority come from what is now the United States, with the timing primarily the 18th and 19th centuries. We can add that most are not single documents, but collections and archives of material. Here are a few of these works by hand.


Item 25 is an archive of material from a well-intentioned, but incredibly insensitive and at times damaging attempt to help America's Indians. It comes from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, opened in 1879, which served as a boarding school for Indians from tribes all over the nation. By that time, the Indians had lost most of their land, their traditional means of living off the land were no longer feasible, and their culture has been decimated by the onslaught of white civilization. Some people concluded that the only hope for the survival of the Indians was through integrating them into white society. This would be accomplished through a typical American education. The selected Indians, once educated, would return to their tribes and teach them the white man's ways, necessary, the founders believed, for the Indians to survive. Of course, it wasn't quite so easy, and the loss of much of their heritage was damaging to the tribes. The Carlisle School led to many similar ones, both government and private, though in time, the practice was discontinued. Carlisle itself closed in 1919. This archive was compiled from 1909-1911 by Alfred W. Ramsey, a teacher at the school. It contains manuscripts, printed documents, photographs, typed sheets, small booklets, writing exercises, ledgers, and numerous ephemeral items. Ramsey ran the business department, and some of the items are student essays on what they should do to help their people once they return to their tribes. After Ramsey left Carlisle, he attended Purdue University, and the archive also contains material from this later period. Priced at $20,000.


Item 90 is an archive of fascinating letters written by Sheldon C. Treat, a young man from Connecticut who emigrated to Missouri in 1859 to find work as a carpenter. He found a different line of work instead. Treat was not pleased with the activities of the “Border Ruffians,” pro-slavery men working along the Kansas-Missouri border. When war broke out, Treat, strongly pro-Union, joined “Father Abraham's” soldiers. He rose to the level of Lieutenant during the war. Treat's letters range from his days in Missouri before the war until after its conclusion. His observations on the motivation of soldiers is most interesting. Writes Treat, “People will say they fight for honor and glory but I tell you that they fight because they love to fight.” They may go into battle cool and calm, but once a brother or friend is killed, “blood runs freely then jest listen and hear the deep curses of revenge and then see if they fight because they love it...” After that, he says, they don't think of honor but approach battle “like a day's work.” $6,500.


Item 11 is a collection of three documents relating to the notable French-Canadian trader Peter Bisaillon (or Besallion or Bizaillon or Beselion). Bisaillon came to Canada with his four brothers around 1680. In 1686, he signed up with Henri Tonti's party in an attempt to find the missing explorer La Salle. They traveled down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico but could not find him, explained by the fact that La Salle has been killed by his mutinous men in Texas. Bisaillon then moved to Pennsylvania, where for many years he was a trader with the Indians, as well as serving as an interpreter. He had to deal with the intrigues of the trading companies, his fortune depending on whether his allies were in the favor of local officials. He was at something of a disadvantage being French in an English colony, but ultimately he made out well, living to the age of 80, dying in 1742. One of these documents, dated 1712, clears Bisaillon of any obligations to John Treson, with whom he had some sort of business relationship. Another, from 1714, gave him the right to up to 250 acres of land and to conduct trade, important since he was considered an alien in Pennsylvania. The third is a fascinating personal letter dated 1702 from one Jahanna Beselion addressed to “Beloved father.” We will simply quote from Jahanna's letter, with her own spelling: “Beloved father, My only desier is, that my dier father would be pleast to remember me, for I understand that you are my only father, my mother Jannaihe Scoute shee taks noe care of me... Now my only desier is that my beloved father would be pleas to remember his diere child, and sand me few word back again that should mak me glad and satisfigd in my mind that I had a father in life; my homley respect to my diere father for ever Petter Beselion.” Did Bisaillon recognize her? Was Jahanna really his daughter? Bisaillon's first wife was an Indian, but we find no record of a daughter Jahanna. It would be nice to think the claim was real and the two had a wonderful reunion, but the answer is probably lost to history. $12,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>

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