Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2015 Issue

Rare American Works from David Lesser Antiquarian Books


Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their catalogue 142 of Rare Americana. Most items are shorter form material, ranging from pamphlets to single-page documents such as broadsides. They represent immediate reaction to events more than lengthy, long considered treatises on the subjects of the day. They better reflect the sentiments of the time than those arrived at after a careful review of history. Here are few from this latest selection of mostly American, 18th and 19th century documents.


Abraham Lincoln went from an unknown westerner to a major political voice in the course of a few short weeks in 1858 as a result of his famed debates with Stephen A. Douglas. They were competing for the senate seat from Illinois. Douglas would win that contest, but the more important presidential rematch would go overwhelmingly to the spellbinding Lincoln two years later. A month prior to the first debate, he gave this Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered in Springfield, Saturday Evening, July 17, 1858. This is the only separate printing of this speech. Lincoln, as we know, was like Douglas in wanting intensely to preserve the Union. Unlike Douglas, he did not believe it could be achieved by acquiescing to practically every Southern demand. In this speech, Lincoln repeated his warning that a house divided could not stand, that one day it must be all slave or all free. He described the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Douglas' famed compromise, as the beginning of a conspiracy to nationalize slavery. While saying that blacks were not equal “in all respects,” Lincoln said they were equal in their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and added, “in the right to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned, he is the equal of every other man.” Item 88. Priced at $6,500.


Item 47 is what was known as a “warning-out” warrant. This was something of a colonial version of where a community buys bus tickets home (or to anywhere else) for people living on the street so as not to be obliged to care for them. In the 18th century, in accordance with English law, municipalities were required to provide support for impoverished residents. However, local selectmen in most communities had the power to exclude new residents who might not be able to support themselves. This warrant is addressed to the constables of Swansey, Massachusetts, telling them to warn Jane Dane, who arrived in Swansey from Freetown, that she does not have the selectmen's permission to live in town, and therefore she must depart within 14 days. $650.


Item 143 is a relic from the reconstruction of the state of Texas after the Civil War: Constitution of the State of West Texas, published in 1868 or 1869. A constitutional convention had been called to bring Texas back into the fold of the United States, but many delegates were more interested in dividing the state into new states. This might seem odd, but when Texas was admitted to the Union in 1845, it was done so with the understanding it might be divided into as many as four separate states. There were some logical reasons to do so. The state was enormous, and varied greatly in terms of climate, agriculture, history, cultural background, and such. Regions had widely differing interests. Then there were issues of administering such a far-flung empire from one location. On top of that, there were differing political interests. To the east were persons whose beliefs aligned them with the South, former slaveholders who had enthusiastically favored the Confederacy. To the west were German immigrants, liberals in their political beliefs, who were loyal to the Union. Even within the political parties there were divisions. Some Republicans wanted to carve out a state in the west to gain power, since Texas as a whole was likely to be a Democratic state. Still, some Democrats wanted the eastern part of the state to be separated for fear that more liberal westerners, combined with freed blacks, would take control of the state. Finally, there were those with political ambitions, recognizing that more states meant more positions of political power to be divvied up. The major argument against dividing the state into two or more new states was the cost of new capitals and new state governments among a small and less than wealthy population. Nevertheless, Texas might well have had a majority for division, but there was never a majority for any particular division. Numerous new boundaries were proposed, but no one of them could ever garner a majority. So the State of West Texas never came to be, though it does have its own constitution. $1,000.


Horse theft isn't a big issue these days, but in the 19th century, it was a major concern. It was a little like automobile theft today, but horses were a larger part of a person's net worth in those days and most weren't insured. You could get yourself strung up from the nearest tree for stealing someone's horse. The result was organizations were formed to prevent horse theft and capture the thieves. Item 4 is the Report of Sub-Orders of the Anti-Horse Thief Association, published in 1885. This group of organizations operated in the Midwest – Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. Of course, it would not be too many more years before the horse thief organizations would go the way of the horse itself with automobiles making their appearance. $275.


Item 63 relates to a major moment in the history of the labor movement, the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1886. A huge protest had been called as part of labor's demand for an 8-hour work day. A bomb exploded and several policemen were killed. It provided an opportunity for a government and press with little sympathy for workers to crack down. Trials were held, several convicted and sentenced to death. Three still in prison in 1893 when recently elected governor John Peter Altgeld took office were pardoned by the new Governor, who, like many, believed the trials were a sham. That led to the following anonymous attack: The Pardon of the Anarchists. The writer describes Gov. Altgeld's motives as “If I can secure the support of the low, the ignorant, the disaffected, the turbulent and the criminal classes, enough of my party will unite with them on party grounds to insure my political success.” Of course, it was just the opposite. The progressive Altgeld, who fought for worker's rights, brought on the wrath of the powerful press and was defeated for reelection in 1896. Even Theodore Roosevelt, who would adopt many of the progressive values Altgeld battled for, attacked him personally as supporting murderers. $450.


David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <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>
  • <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

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