Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2014 Issue

Autograph Manuscripts from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller


Autograph manuscripts.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller has released Catalogue 60: Books from a San Francisco Private Library Part 2. Autograph Manuscripts. Last month we reviewed the first part of this collection, focused on books and manuscripts. It included some of the most important and collectible material in the field, and this selection offers no less. Names such as Lincoln, Napoleon, Einstein, Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Elizabeth I, Ferdinand and Isabella are to be found among these autograph documents. Here are a few more.


We start with a major Civil War letter from General Ulysses S. Grant. It effectively announces the war is almost over. It was written on April 4, 1865, to Colonel Bowers and Edwin Stanton. Bowers was an aide who Grant would call on to write up a copy of the terms of surrender five days later; Stanton was Secretary of War. Grant states, “The army is pushing forward in three columns in the hope of overtaking or dispersing the remainder of Lee's army.” He notes where his various troops are now closing in on Lee. “All of the enemy that retain anything like organization have now gone North of Appomattox and are apparently headed for Lynchburg. Their losses have been heavy. Houses throughout the country are nearly all used as hospitals for wounded men...” He then ends with a the rather dismissive comment about how serious the remaining threat is by writing, “I shall continue the pursuit as long as there appears to be any use in it.” Three days later, Grant would propose that Lee surrender, but the latter would stall for time, hoping, as Grant surmised, to be able to escape west to Lynchburg where there would be more supplies. Grant, however, would continue his pursuit, and as the noose tightened, Lee recognized there was no escape and surrendered on April 9. This letter has been in private hands since offered in an Anderson's Auction sale in 1908 where it was described as “one of the most important historical documents ever offered.” Item 12. Priced at $175,000.


Next is a signed document from a king whose life was cut short, quite literally. King Charles I of England was one of those rare kings to have his head cut off. That would come later. On November 27, 1643, Charles' head was still securely fastened to his body, but he was already in trouble. The English King's authoritarian ways and religious connections did not sit well with many of his subjects. There were all sorts of parties from England, Scotland, and Ireland with their own sets of issues, but too many for Charles' good were united against him. The year earlier, the long-festering conflicts had turned into Civil War, and among the King's many problems was money. He needed more. Item 1 is a document in which Charles “requests” (it's almost a demand) a loan of £50 from Edward Pyle. Charles says that if Pyle does not loan him the money, it will give “cause to suspect your duty and inclination both to Our Person and to the publique peace.” Such strong-arming probably antagonized supporters, though Pyle evidently gave in, after negotiating a better deal. A receipt on the back indicates Charles received only £30. We are not sure of the identity of Pyle, but he may have been the Edward Pyle of the Pyle family that were royalists at the time, and did well again after the Restoration. As to whether the loan was repaid, we would guess not. Conditions, financial and otherwise, did not improve for Charles, and in 1649, he was convicted of treason and his head removed with the stroke of an axe. $2,750.


Here is one of those difficult situations many people face on occasion – you receive a request for a recommendation for someone you would not recommend. What do you? Write a terse recommendation that complies with the request, yet lets the reader see you are less than excited about the person? Or, do you just do the uncomfortable thing and say “no?” T. S. Eliot chose the latter in this 1957 letter. Perhaps it was made a little easier by not having to reply directly to the person seeking the recommendation. A Miss C. von Koschembahr had submitted some poetry to publisher Faber and Faber for a friend, and sought Eliot's recommendation. Eliot had been an editor and later director at the firm. He honestly replies, in declining the request, “I am not really impressed with your unfortunate friend's poems.” He does add that she should contact an American poet, preferably a younger one, as “I should not like the fate of any verse to rest on my decision alone.” Item 9. $800.

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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