Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2015 Issue

Diversity and the Unusual from W. C. Baker's First Catalogue

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Catalog One from W. C. Baker.

This month we review the first catalogue from W. C. Baker Rare Books and Ephemera. Last month we wrote about Will Baker's return to full-time bookselling from the Pittsburgh-Cleveland area (click here). This month we take a look at Baker's first catalogue, appropriately titled Catalog One. Baker describes it as "a selection of unusual printed and manuscript works relating to magic, medicine, museums, religion, science, the stage, and other diverse subjects." What we find is indeed a diverse selection of works, with many of them at least bordering on the unusual. Here are a few samples.

 

Thomas Paine was one of America's founders, his Common Sense being an inspiration for the revolution that set the nation free. And yet, by the end of his life, Paine was a pariah in the land he helped free, no one even willing to accept his body for burial. Such was the dark side of religion. The cause of Paine's fall was his unwillingness to accept revealed religion, the Bible, Christianity. Most considered Paine an atheist, though this was not accurate. He was more a Deist, a believer in one God who believed that God's nature could be understood through reason, not books or words uttered by man. By the middle of the 19th century, some were calling to rehabilitate Paine, considering him a good man, even if mistaken in some beliefs. Attempts at rehabilitation fell hand in hand with the spiritualist movement centered in mid-century Rochester, New York, in this book by Charles Hammond, a Universalist minister who became a spiritual medium: Light from the Spirit World. The Pilgrimage of Thomas Paine, and Others, to the Seventh Circle of the Spirit World, published in 1852. Hammond allegedly spoke with the deceased Paine and others, and listened in on their conversations. What we find is that Paine is now doing well in the after-world, despite his prior beliefs that many thought would condemn him to Hell. Sure, Paine made some mistakes on Earth – who hasn't? - but where he was mistaken, he acknowledges his errors, and all's well that ends well. This conclusion is certainly consistent with Hammond's Universalist faith, and hopefully all has ended well for this great American patriot, but one suspects Hammond's conversations with Paine were more in his imagination than in the world of spirits. Item 31. Priced at $300.

 

While Paine had few takers for his radical thoughts, the religion of America's Puritan founders had swung decidedly more liberal at the end of the 18th century, breaking off into Unitarian and Congregationalist wings. Even the more traditional Congregationalists had become too liberal for some, and a more orthodox wing at Harvard broke away to found Andover Seminary. Item 4 is an attack on this group in an 1826 broadside from Boston headed The Moloch of Orthodoxy. The "Moloch of Orthodoxy" is the the writer's description of the breakaway group's vision of God. The writer describes this orthodox God as "delighting in the eternal damnation of myriads of human beings and to glut his devilish appetite, has fore-ordained from all eternity, that a certain number of the human race shall writhe and gnash their teeth in eternal agonies, plunged in a burning pool of liquid fire; and not because they were more wicked than the rest of mankind, but because it is his SOVEREIGN WILL." $750.

 

This is all getting very heavy, so let's move to some lighter fare – Linus the Wonder Horse. Item 48 is a broadside promoting an exhibition of Linus, headed 15,000 People have seen Linus The Horse With the Long Mane and Tail! Long, indeed. The mane was 14 feet long with several feet dragging on the ground. It is a wonder the wonder horse wasn't constantly tripping over his mane. The hair on his tail extended 12 feet. Linus was supposedly descended from a breed known as the Oregon Long-Haired Wild Wonder Horses, though later historians believe they were the offspring of selective breeding, sort of like Clydesdales. Considering the showmanship of the day, one wonders whether Linus was faked, perhaps his mane filled with mane extensions, but it appears he was as hairy as represented. Perhaps the selective breeding had a downside, as it often does, as Linus died in 1894 at the age of just 10. There was a Linus II, but this broadside is for the original Linus, as it promoted an appearance in Maine in 1891 for the "Samson among Equines." You can find pictures of Linus and a few other Oregon Wonder Horses online, and if you want to remember the mane, you will have to view these pictures. Somehow in the ensuing years, the breed died out. $125.

 

I can believe that Oregon Long-Haired Wonder Horses existed, but am more dubious about the existence of the creature described in The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant. Thursday, November 10, 1737. Some fishermen brought their net ashore, and when opened, "to their great Surprize, a Creature of human Shape, having two Legs, leaped out of the Net, and ran away with great Swiftness..." No wonder they were surprized. Unable to overtake the creature, they threw sticks at it. When they caught up, it groaned like a human, keeled over and died. It had webbed feet, facial features resembling a human, and a tail like a salmon along with its two feet. It was four feet tall. It was exhibited in Exeter and London, and reportedly Horace Walpole, son of the Prime Minister, viewed the creature. Item 59. $200.

 

Item 83 is "The Last Writing" of Marion Ira Stout; Containing His Confession... Stout left his last writing behind in his cell when he unsuccessfully attempted suicide a few days before his execution. Stout was convicted for the terribly botched murder of his brother-in-law, Charles Littles. Conspiring with his sister, Sarah, to lure Littles to a cliff, Stout hit his in-law in the head with a hammer and pushed him over the edge. The intention was that Littles would fall into a river below and be carried away. However, the body did not reach the river, so Stout proceeded down the sharp slope to complete the job. He fell to a ledge below, breaking his arm. It was the same ledge where Littles' body had fallen. Stout cried out to his sister, who came to rescue him, only falling to the same ledge herself, breaking her wrist. Still, they managed to push Littles' body off the ledge, only to have it come to rest on the river bank. Stout was quickly arrested, tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to death. Still, despite his obvious guilt, Stout had some notable defenders. He otherwise seemed a nice enough guy, and many believed he was trying to save his sister from a drunken, philandering, abusive husband (others believed his motivation was incest). Among those to speak out for Stout were Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. It was to no avail, and in a horrible conclusion, the execution was as botched as the murder, the hangman's rope failing to break Stout's neck and leaving him struggling for 20 minutes before dying. Sarah got seven years in Sing Sing prison. $450.

 

W. C. Baker Rare Books and Ephemera may be reached at 203-752-7410 or will@wcbaker.com. Their website is www.wcbaker.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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

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