Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2017 Issue

American Personal Narratives from Langdon Manor Books

Ace7c6d4-3b68-4787-869b-74f01339b998

Extraordinary history of the every day.

Langdon Manor Books has issued their Catalog 3 American Personal Narratives. They describe their collection as "The Extraordinary History of the Every Day," and that is precisely what makes these photo albums, diaries and the like so fascinating. These are not life stories of great people but of "ordinary" people, people like the rest of us, extraordinary in their own way. You will be able to relate to these people in ways you can't to George Washington and Winston Churchill. They are not unlike us. Here are a few selections from a catalogue of material I find some of the most interesting that comes across my desk.

 

Before we get to the extraordinary, I have to start with this one because it is as ordinary as it can be. Item 2 is the daily diary from L. Wood Johnson from 1941-1953. I kid you not on this one – Johnson was a farmer from Farmersville, Texas. He has filled all but 36 pages of a 500-page book with thousands of notes about his farm, where he grew corn, cotton, peas, oats, clover, grapes, apples, potatoes, onions, and more. Johnson also raised sheep, milk cows, turkeys and hogs. He had 128 acres, all but 15 of which he farmed. The diary describes his work, what he planted, trips to market, building improvements, livestock births and deaths, and the weather. Lest you think everything about Johnson was ordinary, he did develop his own strain of corn, Wood Johnson Yellow Dent corn, and was named a master farmer by the McKinney Weekly Democrat-Gazette. And as for Farmersville being a dull place, it was then known as "the onion capital of North Texas." Johnson was an older man at the time of this writing, dying three years after the last entry at the age of 87. Priced at $500.

 

Next up we have a World War I diary, mostly from France in 1918. The soldier who kept it was Eldrid Thomas Hunter of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Hunter was likely another "ordinary" man, but what he lived through, and somehow survived, was anything but. He describes the constant artillery fire and grenades as the enemies faced off, each from their trenches. Death was all around, and danger was unending. On August 14 he wrote, "...our post was shelled by artillery which destroyed it, and we narrowly escaped with our lives, only by seeking shelter in a dugout, it was an exciting night, we all expected a fight, hand to hand, but the Boche (derogatory term for a German soldier) failed to show up..." On September 26 he writes, "You have to go thru such a living hell to appreciate what an awful thing war is. To see your companions shot down on every side and to witness such butchery and then try to tell it as you saw it and felt is as I say impossible." Item 22. $850.

 

The young in America were also asked to join the cause during World War I, though their experiences were not nearly so terrifying as Hunter's. Instead, they were asked to join the United States School Garden Army. Schoolchildren aged 9-16 were encouraged to participate in gardening, providing food for their communities at a time when there were food scarcities due to the war. It was portrayed as patriotic, reportedly reaching membership of 6 million. However, it did not last long. Begun in 1917, the army was disbanded by 1919 after the end of the war. Item 1 is a scrapbook and photo album from the School Garden Army at the Mary Hemenway School in Boston. The children are shown sowing and reaping, along with tilling and other farming activities. Other pictures show them at exhibitions. Along with the photographs the scrap book includes various USSGA publications, a flyer by President Wilson, and typescript planting songs. $2,000.

 

War was not hell in Vietnam if all you have to go by is this photo album of U.S. soldiers in 1970. The photographs show soldiers clowning around. The lack of captions makes it hard to identify the pranksters, but among the pictures we see a couple of soldiers with an American flag with a peace symbol replacing the stars while they hold their hands up in peace symbols. There are also shots of local bands on stage with soldiers joining in and dancing women. Langdon Manor warns us that some of the dancers are nude and some shots were taken from a bit too close to the stage. More seriously, one of the pictures shows choppers landing along with internal views of the barracks. Item 21. $750.

 

Item 27 is a photo album of the U. S. Indian Service's traveling library and motion picture bus from 1937-1941. Thirty-two are black and white while 175 have been hand-colored. Pierre Alford, a Shawnee, operated the bus with his wife Dorothy. It appears it was Dorothy who took the pictures and did the coloring. They served various Native American communities around the American Southwest, primarily Arizona. Many of the photographs were taken at schools, either in front, in classrooms, or of children inside the bus. Some are from a fourth of July celebration, a girls' camp, or by people's homes. Other images display natural scenery such as mountains and cacti. Detailed captions are provided for most. There are also several shots of family friend Virgil Brown, including a party after his wedding. He served with the Bushmasters in World War II and he later appeared in newspaper photographs with a few of his fellows and General Douglas MacArthur. That is Brown you see on the cover standing next to his (presumably) new Plymouth. $8,000.

 

This next set of photographs captured one of the sadder moments in recent history. It consists of five photo album leaves containing ten original photographs and three commercial ones. They are of the spaceship Challenger disaster in 1986. They were taken by Dale and Frances Weick. They had received an Air Force pass to view the lift off from just 3 ½ miles away. They took pictures longer into the flight as they hoped to photograph the rocket stages separating. A note on one of the leaves reads, "Frances kept saying 'It was so beautiful & then it was gone.'" Item 31. $450.

 

Langdon Manor Books may be reached at 713-443-4697 or LangdonManorBooks@gmail.com. Their website is found at langdonmanorbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions