Bauman Rare Books published a catalogue of Fine New Acquisitions a little while back. These are certainly fine items, with the selection broken down into sections: Americana; Literature; History, Philosophy, Religion, Science & Economics; Children's Literature; Art & Illustrated; and Hollywood. We will take a look at a few of these items.
We will start with a truly neat letter from Jacqueline Kennedy, written in August of 1960 while her husband was campaigning for the presidency. Jackie was a Bouvier from New York before she married, and she had received a letter from a member of a Bouvier family in New York. However, it turns out they were not related, though she had spoken to the man once as a child. It seems he was the only non-related Bouvier in the New York phone book. Mrs. Kennedy says that the unrelated Bouvier, Maurice, was actually a friend of her grandfather, and lived in the same building as her other grandfather. She continues that she once called him. “He was charming and patient and I was about 8 years old.” Jackie then concludes with some appropriate electioneering for JFK. Since they are not related, she concedes, “So now you have no real excuse to change your political leanings – but I hope you will do as I have done – who was brought up in a family of most ardent Republicans – and decide that my husband is well worth switching for!” Item 20. Priced at $4,500.
Item 68 was the first major positive look at an English king who has a terrible reputation: The History of the Life and Reigne of Richard the Third, by George Buck, published in 1646. Richard battled his way to the top, accused of killing two young princes who stood in his way. He became King in 1483, but immediately found his kingdom in a state of rebellion from powerful forces who opposed his accession. He put it down for awhile, but a more serious attempt was led by Henry Tudor two years later. Richard went to battle, fought bravely, but was killed on the battlefield. His short reign was over. It is subject to debate whether Richard was any worse, or any more brutal, than others of his time. Certainly some of Tudors who followed, such Henry VIII or Bloody Mary, leave a lot to be desired in terms of their humanity. However, to the victor go the spoils, and the Tudors had every reason to depict Richard as the most horrible of kings so as to justify their legitimacy. The coup de grace to that reputation was delivered by Shakespeare in his play about Richard, with all the stereotypes of brutality, physical deformity, and whatnot displayed. The result was that Buck's account provided a very different look at the now ancient king. Of course, by then the Tudor dynasty had come to an end, with the Stuarts taking over. Some believe Richard, if somewhat uncouth, was a good lawmaker and good to the common people. As an aside, Richard's final resting place was long uncertain, and it was the unearthing of what are believed to be his bones over five centuries later under a London parking lot that made headlines in 2012. $4,200.
Speaking of Poor Richard, here is the last of the almanacs of that name published by Benjamin Franklin and David Hall. This is the edition of 1766 and it features a full printing of the British act that did more than any other to turn the colonists to rebellion – the Stamp Act. Franklin would have the opportunity to give Parliament a piece of the colonists' mind on February 13 of that year, noting that troops sent to enforce the Act would not find a rebellion but start one. Item 2. $32,000.
Item 106 is the first American, and virtually the first obtainable edition of the ultimate book of illogical logic, Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland. The first edition was published in London, but was recalled, only around 20 copies having survived. The illustrator of Lewis Carroll's classic, John Tenniel, was dissatisfied with the printing of his drawings. However, most of the sheets from the original printing were still on the shelf. What to do? Of course, ship them off to America. The Americans won't know the difference. And so, these sheets were given a new title page, and the first American edition was born. It was the first to reach all but a handful of people. $21,000.
Greta Garbo was an alien in America, but not an illegal one. We know that from item 134. It is her application to extend her temporary stay, dated October 29, 1929, and filed with the Immigration Service. She was present on a nine-month visa that was about to expire. It gives her age as 24, occupation as actress, home country as Sweden. Miss Garbo's income was $4,000 per week, a lot of money today, an enormous amount of money in 1929. She has signed her name at the end of the form. Garbo would not have realized it at the time, but having a lot of money was particularly valuable on that day. October 29, 1929, was Black Tuesday, the day of the stock market crash that began the Great Depression. $5,500.